What do you do in your free time with your music? Play in your community? Teach?
I do teach and find it very gratifying. I teach piano of course, but also electronic music and composition. I also enjoy doing music for video projects. I also work with other artists to help them attain the sound they are looking for.
How do you describe your music?
Well, it's melodic. After playing and writing music for 30 years, I've performed and written in many different styles. I learned to play piano playing jazz, so the smooth jazz genre is a return to my roots in a way. When I write, the different styles I love all seem to find their way into the music. It's easy to hear blues, standards, Latin and rock infuences on "Spice of Life". But for me, the melody is always center stage and I hope the melodies on "Spice of Life" reflect that.
What is your song writing process?
I know many artists have special places or circumstances that they use for inspiration. For me, the sound of the music is the inspiration. I like to sit at the piano and improvise. At some point, I'll play something that catches my ear and develop that into a song. Sometimes I'll write a melody and don't know where it's going to fit. Some of the melodies on Spice of Life have been waiting around for years. Eventually things come together. I often bounce ideas off my wife, Marianna who has a great ear. She gives me feedback and helps me to organize the production process. She sometimes contributes arrangement and melodic ideas.
What other genres do you think Smooth Jazz should embrace?
Jazz as an idiom has embraced just about every musical influence. Jazz musicians are creative by definition. It seems to me that the smooth jazz audience wants music with what I call a "cool groove". Smooth jazz gives you a sense of excitement, but at the same time imparts a contented sense of well being. I believe that smooth jazz should be open to all influences, latin, rock, R&B, world, etc., as long as the desired effect is achieved; that "cool groove". Jazz itself has a rich history that can be drawn upon to a great extent. The swing era, the birth of cool, the great jazz standards all have elements that can infuse smooth jazz with new beauty, directions and excitement.
What artist or artists have been influential to your career?
I've had many diverse musical "heros". Chick Corea, Elton John, Billy Joel, Jimi Hendix, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Riddle, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Led Zepplin, Jethro Tull, and the 1000 others I can't think of right now.
And on a lighter note, do you have a pet?
Unfortunately, I don't. I've been traveling so much the past few years. But my wife and I are looking at getting a dog!