First, enough about me. It is important to acknowledge the people who have led me to where I am today. My teachers: Ralph C. Pace, Mitch White, Bill Ellington, Joe Morello, Peter Erskine, Dominic Spera, William Roberts, and David Baker. Thanks for the support they gave, the challenges they provided, and the institutions they created which allowed me to grow. My influences: My father for his obsession with jazz, my mother for driving me to all of those lessons and rehearsals, my brother for hipping me to all music, Leon Parker for his friendship, but also for pushing me (sometimes harder than I would have liked) to find myself, and then to be myself as a musician.
Growing up in the NYC area was in itself, inspirational. There were great musicians everywhere willing to give a kid a chance on a jam session, or a small gig at a church or bar-mitzvah. I learned the club date beats and started working early. The need for a deeper understanding led me to Indiana University, with breaks and summers to return to NY and absorb the goings on in the city of the mid to late 80’s, which I returned to for good in the early 90’s.
I feel lucky to have been a part of a flourishing scene, getting to play with “the kids” of the time, many of whom are now well known torch bearers for the next generation: Brad Mehldau, Bruce Barth, Larry Goldings, Chris Potter, Joel Frahm, David Berkman, Mike Holober, John Hart, Ben Monder, Peter Bernstein, Josh Redman, Larry Grenadier, Joe Martin, Scott Colley, Bob Hurst…Getting to play and learn from “the elders” has been an honor and a privilege too: Sal Salvador, Mundell Lowe, Barney Kessel, Johnny Coles, Slide Hampton, Urbie Green, Barry Harris, Norman Simmons, Harold Mabern, Jamil Nasser, Ralph and Dave Lalama, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Freddie Hubbard…Today, I thank the people who inspire me and still call me for gigs regularly after many many years! Sarah Jane Cion, Deanna Witkowski, Dave Ambrosio, Chris Coogan, Glenda Davenport, Tom Christensen…
I’ve taken some stabs as a jazz group leader, most recently a “collective” of sorts where I get to combine my skills on drums with my interest in melodic percussion (I’m a frustrated pianist!). I had originally conceived of the idea as an improvising minimalist percussion ensemble. (I kept listening to Steve Reich and wanting a soloist to enter after about 10 minutes.) It evolved more into a quartet with two percussionists (myself and John Hollenbeck, an awesome musician/composer) along with two other great musicians, composers, band leaders, bassist Stephan Crump and woodwind virtuoso and friend, Tom Christensen.
It was never recorded in a studio, but click on the SOUNDS page to hear a sample of the demo. You can also hear something from a demo I did way back in the day for the Thelonious Monk competition. I didn’t make it into the competition, but I did win the “Cognac-Hennessey Jazz search” in 1996 as a member of pianist/composer Mike Holober’s Quintet. We played at the Playboy Jazz festival at the Hollywood Bowl (I never got to meet Hef). Also, thanks to Mike, I was a finalist in Jazziz magazine’s “Drummers On Fire” competition. You can listen to one of his tunes as well.
Besides my playing, I’m also really proud of my role as a composer and teacher, whether teaching privately or doing clinics for students around the world. I was on faculty at a summer Jazz workshop in Groznjan, Croatia, have been teaching at The Fieldston School in Riverdale NY since 1992, have taught at Hartwick College in Oneonta NY and was the musical director and composer for a “Stomp” type show called “Trash Time” at Hershey Park, PA. I still craft a decent pop tune now and then, so please watch some of those videos by clicking on my VIDEOS page. Many thanks for visiting.