Category Archives: Uncategorized

Things to Think About: Handout for my USC students

  This is a beginning of semester handout I distributed to all our jazz freshmen and sophomores. My vision of what students of the music should be working on/thinking about. Hope you find it useful!   1. What a band leader looks for: Players who have a positive attitude, are respectful, communicative, encouraging, show up [...]

November 2014

Interesting and troubling times we are living in. Whacked out weather patterns are hitting us in the face, suggesting that climate change is very real and upon us. Anything having to do with people of color, be it immigration reform, unreasonable treatment of people of color by the police, and basically anything a president of [...]

George Coleman and Wayne Shorter

George Coleman and Wayne Shorter are two of my favorite saxophonists. They both played in the most important bands of Miles Davis, have strong personalities, are dynamic composers/improvisors., and made/make huge advances to further jazz music. Their approaches are somewhat different, yet they both take the music to a higher level every time they play. [...]

What I’ve Learned

There’s a LOT more to learn. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Still working on that one! Some things that have happened defy explanation. For no viable reason, circumstances just went that way. Don’t expect people to act the way you act, or the way you think they should act. Try to make [...]

Jazz Life @61

Just turned 61 2 weeks ago.  Grateful to have made it this far. Just celebrated my 40th year in the music business. It was 40 years ago I left Manhattan School of Music and joined Eumir Deodato’s band to tour the world. It’s been quite the wild ride, to say the least. Many things happened [...]

William Kennedy

I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play/record with some very good drummers over the years. Mel Lewis, Art Blakey, Buddy Rich, Tito Puente, Peter Erskine, Pete Laroca , John Riley, Steve Gadd, and Jack Dejonette to name a few. Will Kennedy is right up there with the best of them. In [...]

Russell Ferrante

I’ve been meaning to write this column for a long time. Russell Ferrante is my band mate in the Yellowjackets for the last 23 years. He and I teach at the USC Thornton School of Music, and as of late, Russ has been playing in my big band. We’ve grown to be good friends, and our families [...]


May has come along rather quickly, and is the culmination of a year as chair of the USC Thornton Jazz program, numerous writing and playing projects, and the challenge of balancing travel/performing with teaching. This week I’m able to wind it all down and catch my breath before things heat up again. The year at [...]


1975, New York City. I’m working with the TIto Puente Orchestra playing 6 or 7 nights a week in and around the 5 boroughs. The take home pay was 100 dollars per week. My monthly rent is 185 dollars for a small loft room on 28th street. The budget is tight, but I’m surviving and [...]

Grammys 2013

When I was doing session work in NYC I worked a few times for an arranger who played in the big bands of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. Most of the guys on the session were 15-20 years older than I. I had some quasi-soloing to do on one of the cues for a soap [...]