My lifelong goal has always been to combine as many different musical elements and influences as I can into my playing.
I was born into a musical family. My mother was a Julliard grad concert pianist and my late father was an opera tenor turned cantor. My first experience with live music was dancing in my living room as a four year old to Shubert lieder performed by my parents. As a teenager I got into Motown, James Brown, Otis Redding, and shortly thereafter became enamored enough of the blues to start playing it on a guitar. There were these two clubs, “The Nags Head Inn” on W 34th Street in Manhattan and “The Nightcap” on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn which had weekly blues jam sessions and as a fifteen year old I would somehow work up enough courage to sit-in on a regular basis alongside members of Muddy Waters and Paul Butterfield’s bands.
A few years later my father brought home a Wes Montgomery record and it would have a powerful and everlasting effect. In high school I started attending a jazz workshop run by The Henry Street Settlement. Many great jazz musicians volunteered their time and knowledge there, among them Paul West, Billy Mitchel, Hugh Lawson, Joe Bonner, Cecil Bridgewater, and Harold Mabern; and I learned so much from all of them.
I enrolled as a music major at Hunter College, where I studied classical composition and theory with a number of Nadia Boulanger disciples including the late composer Louise Talma. I became particularly interested in twentieth century harmony and worked to incorporate it into my playing.
Milt Hinton became the head of Hunter's Jazz Workshop and soon became a friend, a mentor and later on one of the many musicians that I would work with. With Milt's urging I applied for and received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant which allowed me to study classical guitar privately with Leonid Bolotine. At the same time I continued to attend other jazz workshops where I met and learned from such great musicians as Jimmy Heath, Attila Zoller, Gene Bertoncini, Ted Dunbar, Makanda Ken McIntyre and Jimmy Owens, among others.
Over the years, the many eclectic musicians which I have performed and recorded with include latin pianist/arranger Joe Blanco, jazz saxophonist/arranger Sahib Shihab, the rock group The Coasters, free-jazz drummer Rashid Bakr, as well as many other jazz and R&B artists. In recent years I have been concentrating on developing my own sound and concept. I recorded “Hybrids”, my first recording as a leader in 2006.
Currently I am working on a number of new projects, including collaborating with multi-reed player Joe Giardullo.