What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?
To me, melody is so important in music. I think a particularly good melody will always be exciting and make the music fun to perform regardless of what else is going on. The sense of adventure and the journey that a particular piece of music takes me on is also really important to me. I love tunes that have real elements of improvisation and room for the band to stretch out. Brand new things happen every night with these types of tunes.
If you were to choose to learn a new instrument that you’ve never played before, what instrument might that be?
It would have to be the trumpet. Although I have a trumpet and can play some really basic things on it, I would never in any way call myself a trumpet player. For some reason, the sound of the trumpet really speaks to me. I have a particular tone that I use on the guitar synthesizer that has an incredible horn like sound, and I approach playing it very much like a trumpet, really using my breathing to create a really natural sound.
What would your top “desert island” classic albums be, regardless of genre… the albums you turn to time after time for your own personal enjoyment and inspiration?
Keith Jarrett - Belonging, Beatles - Abbey Road, Miles Davis - Seven Steps to Heaven, John McLaughlin - Belo Horizonte, Wayne Shorter - Juju, Pat Metheny Group album, Mike Stern - Upside Downside and Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy.... There’s way more than these for sure! Music takes you back in time and triggers memories. These particular recordings really bring back some exciting and wonderful memories for me.
Outside of your musical career, what else in your life gets you excited and fulfilled?
I love running. A few years back, I became obsessed with it and ran 3 marathons. Those were life-changing moments for me. I sort of felt that if I could endure the pain of training for and running in a marathon, that I could accomplish anything I set my mind on, and poured my heart and soul into. I can remember looking over while running a San Diego half marathon, and Oprah Winfrey was running right next to me. That was pretty cool. Also, I love eating....so running allows me to eat a lot.
What’s your favorite non-music activity?
Watching movies on the big screen especially if the music score is exceptional. I’m a huge fan of film music and the power of how it supports the film and moves the viewer. I always have seemed to have one or two tracks on each record of mine that is particularly cinematic. It is something that comes natural to me after having studied film composing years ago at UCLA.
If you were magically allowed to spend an hour with whomever you chose in history… alive or dead… and really be able to get inside their head, who would that be?
I would love to spend an hour with Miles Davis. However, I think even if I were to be able to spend a lifetime with him, it would still be impossible to get inside his head. I think when they made Miles, they broke the mold and from everything I know about him, even his closest friends and family couldn’t truly figure him out.