Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I was born in Livonia, Michigan and lived in a number of states in the Midwest when I was young. I later moved to New Jersey during my grade school years. I started playing the electric bass when I started high school. I was about 14 years old. I stated playing rock music and joined a number of bands. I didn’t start to listen to jazz until my last year of high school. I was self taught up to that time, but I decided to start taking lessons to learn more about jazz music. The lessons were very intense. I think they were about 3 hours in length every week. I decided to study jazz in college and was accepted to New York University. I studied there with the great Mike Richmond. After about a year and a half I started to play the acoustic bass as well.
Why did you choose to play bass?
It’s hard to say exactly what drew me to the bass at first. I remember at the time a number of my friends were learning to play instruments at the time and I thought I’d try the bass. Something about it made me want to stick with it and right from the beginning I wanted to practice every day. In the beginning is was all rock music for me. Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix – that kind of thing. As I started listening to and playing jazz, Miles Davis’s bands from the 50’s and 60’s were a big influence on me. Specifically Paul Chambers’ bass playing was something I really paid attention to. Other groups that influenced me early on were the Bill Evans Trio, Wayne Shorter’s Blue Note recordings, and Chick Corea.
Have you ever been to Japan?
I’ve never been to Japan to perform actually. I would love to bring my music there. Everyone I have talked to who has been there always says how respectful the audiences are of jazz musicians. It would be great to experience that firsthand.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I am focusing on writing music for my trio. I am planning a follow up album to my debut CD that will feature more original compositions. I’m really excited with the direction the group is going its been fun to come up with new concepts for the trio to explore.
I noticed your debut album is all originals except for one cover/standard, which was nice to see. Too many standards on albums is kind of boring for me..
Yes, I did set out to do an album of all original material. Of course, there is one standard on the record, but it was important for me to arrange that standard so that it would fit in with my original music. I love to play standards, but I think it is important as a jazz artist to put out our original music. I think that it is something that helps to move the music forward. All of the other songs on the record are mine. The trio plays an important part in giving life to my ideas for the songs, but the direction and concept for these come from me. However, I do write the songs with this particular trio in mind. I feel that we have begun to develop a sound and a concept as a trio that I want to explore in my compositions.
Three favorite albums:
Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain Bill Evans – Portrait in Jazz Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil
The OK Jazz Podcast is a weekly music show, hosted by James Catchpole aka Mr OK Jazz, playing an eclectic selection of World Music, Jazz, Soul, Funk, Blues and more, ranging from classic tracks to fresh releases. Listen out also for a pick of live music events and gigs going on in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas, with listings posted regularly in the Events section.