Why did you choose to become a musician?
I wanted to be able to share my thoughts on what I felt, what I saw, what I dreamt of, what I hoped for and what I desired, all the while inspiring those who listen to my music and help them reflect on their experiences.
What is your experience when you feel connected into the music?
There is nothing like it. When I am connected to the music, I am not in control, the music seems to flow through me effortlessly. I am merely a vessel through which the message in the music flows.
What is your experience of when you don't feel connected to your music?
The music seems forced and unnatural.
Where does your inspiration comes from? What does it feel like?
Any and everything that I encounter has the potential to inspire me. I find that when I'm most relaxed my body in essence becomes an antenna that is receptive to those things that would be imperceptible to me most of the time.
What is your experience while improvising? Does it relate to any spirituality you may practice in your life?
As a professional musician it is imperative that one learn the instrument to the best of their ability. As an improvising musician it's even more important because you don't want the lack of technique to be a hindrance to you being the vessel. Having to react to the moment and not knowing what will be required, forces you to have the ability to do the previously unattempted as though you did it every day. It requires faith. I feel that by embracing challenges and overcoming them you are in essence training yourself in a similar fashion. In life there will be people that only want to go to familiar places and experience that which they have already experienced, then there are those that are fearless and are willing to venture into the unknown because that is where they feel most alive. I choose to live my life embracing both the familiar and unknown and that reflects in my playing.
Where does your inspiration while composing come from? What is your experience of that inspiration like?
LIFE..... I think that the notion of composing is most in line with the original reason why I became a musician. I've always felt that through composition I can be most clear about what I'm trying to communicate. My music is my voice.
Do you have any fun stories of inspirational moments to share?
I remember studying at a Saturday program in Harlem called The Jazz Mobile Workshop with the great tenor saxophonist Charles Davis. I really looked forward to Saturdays because he was so inspiring to me. At that time I only played alto sax and couldn't imagine playing anything else. Charles took me under his wing and was really good to me. It had been some time since I had seen him last, at least 15 years. I had finished High School, graduated College and had been playing professionally for a few years. By 2002 I had expanded my arsenal of instruments to include bass clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones and was on a quest to find the right mouthpiece for tenor. After not seeing Charles for years we happened to cross paths at a music store one afternoon. Before he got there I had been going through tenor mouthpieces with not much success. I had just packed up my horn when he walked in and after we greeted each other I shared my frustration about not being able to make up my mind about which mouthpiece to get and asked if he could help me out. I thought that maybe he would say something like, "well Trane played this and Stitt played that" but instead his reply--and I'll never forget it--was "if it sounds good then that's what you should play". Classic Charles!!!