I'm a musician, and that takes a number of forms. I'm a jazz and commercial trumpet and flugelhorn player, but am also a composer and producer at my home studio, the Defiant Amoeba. My musical interests are very diverse, but I have some boundaries - the things that have always gotten under my skin can be distilled down to the the sorts of music in which the clash of musical tones, by themselves, produces an emotional reaction. Although I love all sorts of vocal music and the fact that music can be narrative, that's neither a starting or ending place for me - my true love is the alchemy of sound - instrumental music, whether it be jazz, ambient, film music, what is commonly referred to as "classical music" or various forms of electronic and experimental forms.
I grew up in a small town along the coast of southern Maine and the influence of the place - it's spectacular and inspirational natural beauty, and my wariness of small town America - has never left me as a result. I was a sensitive kid with strong emotions - I was the kind that clearly was going to be involved in something artistic - and that was a family trait as there were many artsy people in my clan, some of them professionals. Music hit me at 7 when my dad took me and the fam to see the Stan Kenton Orchestra at a ballroom in Portland, Maine. I was struck by the the trumpets... and that was that. I had a natural feel for the looseness of jazz in which my imagination and ability to hear things and where creativity was stressed more than simply playing the instrument was a positive attribute. I was never all th a
that crazy about playing classical music, because... where was the fun in that? Playing somebody else's stuff? That was just a vehicle to get to the good part... where I could create. Jazz became home.
College meant Berklee in Boston and although I had a lot of work to do as a technical trumpet player (and basically totally relearned the instrument during those years thanks to a great private teacher) I finally got a clear understanding of the nuts and bolts of the subject in a way that I never had before. Instead of being a rough talent, I started to get the beginning of polish. Berklee was filled with teachers who could tell you all of the fundamentals so you could draw inside the lines like a professional but also encouraged you to think outside those borders as well. It was not a conservatory - it was a creative place - and that's why it was the right place for me. I remember a music theory teacher blowing my mind early on when we were trying to get a feel for the rules of music who reminded us that we were studying "music theory" not "music truth" because... there was no music truth! Berklee gave me a fantastic musical foundation. I came out of the place able to play but also with an artistic sensibility - I didn't just have a sense of the music that I liked, I knew why I liked it. When I played something, I meant it
After college where do you move to if you're a young musician? Why, New York, of course! My years in the city - and I was there nearly 20 years, always in Manhattan - were filled with playing and stretching myself in every way imaginable. I was poor and desperate and at other times managed to make some money. There was wine, women and song - it was a blast. I grew up and I learned to have an edge. The sensitive kid from Maine was still there, but I kept that fairly buried until I needed him. I played a lot of jazz in all sorts of situations but also started to do more commercial work as well. That was an evolution. I had been a hardcore straight ahead jazz player, but I increasingly became disillusioned with the direction that movement went - jazz increasingly became a strict, academic and self-important scene, no better than other forms I had avoided for exemplifying the same traits. It increasingly wasn't something I wanted to be associated with - or certainly not exclusively.
Then something extraordinary happened. I met a woman who was unlike the women I had usually been with. She was bright and had her act together! Now, I had met a few people like that before but had always managed
managed to sabotage actual happiness. This time, I didn't. I was in my late 30's and the romance moved fast. We met, we were crazy about each other, we eloped, we had a kid and we moved... into the woods... north of the city... And I built a studio... And I practiced... And I decided to write and produce... whatever the hell I was hearing. And that's where I've been ever since. I recorded a record with a wide variety of styles and learned a great deal by doing so. Every piece on the record either got terrestrial or internet radio play and it was a thrill to hear my stuff that I made at home get played by some wonderful outlets - my favorite being a Saturday night jazz show on FIP - a part of Radio France. A few years back I was asked to help out a modern dance company with a variety of pieces in short order and that went well - the dancers performed at the Guggenheim and it was wild to hear my music... in there.
Projects continue and in conjunction with my musical activities, and with the nature of the political times which are fraught and will be for some time, I've decided to blog a bit, do some videos on YouTube and Tweet and continue my outreach to those of like mind, to the degree to which they exist, or to those that may find value in my perspective.