At what point in your life did you make the decision to become a professional musician and actually record your own albums?
I think that I always had it in me to turn professional but the thing that threw me over the edge was losing my wife and love Linda to breast cancer in 2012. Instead of turning inward and getting angry at what a terrible curve ball that life had dealt her and me, I decided to channel my energy into something positive like music. I have always believed in the power of music to heal. Also, when I play, I play to Linda and my late father and I know they hear me and that makes me feel good and play better.
How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
I thought about it about a year and I wanted people to experience something different in the smooth jazz genre than what other artists are currently doing. On my album, No Time Like Now, folks are going to hear a variety of tunes. There’s a couple of funky drive time type tunes. Every time I hear them, I want to be on the highway feeling the road. Then there are a couple of tunes that sound just like what their names say, Sunset and Caribbean Nights. The album has about four original tunes and three or four covers, done “Vinstyle.”
Who are some of your current favorite artists, Smooth Jazz or otherwise and what artists do you feel akin to or in the same tribe with?
David Sanborn comes first to my mind. I view him as the technical genius that inspires me and challenges me. But there are several other great saxophonists that I love to listen to regularly and emulate, each for a different reason I should add. For instance, I consider Jeff Kashiwa and Eric Marienthal brilliant musicians who’s melodies and solos sing out clearly in a way that many other saxophonists cannot.
What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?
I am most proud that I loved my wife and stood by her, shoulder to shoulder, through her battle with cancer (a battle she unfortunately lost). I am proud that I am a good son and that I have been fortunate to realize that a person makes their own karma in life by the good deeds they do and I strive to ensure that each and every day I wake up, I do something good out there for a person, people, a group, whatever I can do, no matter how little the deed is.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of recording a new album?
Oh man, the studio experience for me was challenging. I am working with a crew who wants everything to be perfect. And I’m not complaining here because I am the same way. I just never realized the amount of work that goes into recording something in the studio when you want the thing to come out right. Phrasings, timing, melody, solos, break downs, oh my God. I recall one particular day in the studio… I just wasn’t getting these specific 8 bars in the tune.
Who would you say has been the single biggest influence in your life in getting you to where you are now in your career?
Oh, absolutely I can say it was David Sanborn. I always listened to Dave and went to many of his concerts. I was fortunate to have had a couple of conversations with Dave at the Blue Note and on the Smooth Jazz cruises. Fortunately for me at least, I got to know Dave and I like him. I think he’s a decent guy and really smart too. Dave had asked me how well I faired in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy (I lost my house).