Private Party. See you next time!
I have been playing for decades. I started out playing rock music where I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. The musicians I played with were great and so was the music. Eventually I gravitated to Jazz and Jazz/Rock Fusion, where I was influenced by the likes of Billy Cobham, Lenny White and Tony Williams.
Music, like life itself, moves us to different places, both spiritually and geographically. Over the years, I refined my tastes and honed my skills, studying at Drummer's Collective in NYC, and later with great drummer, and now, longtime friend Frank Marino. These experiences opened my mind, and made me thirst for more! My studies continued when I met the great Adam Nussbaum. We spoke several times, became acquainted, and having been so impressed with his playing and experiences, I asked him to take me on as I wanted further growth and edge.
This is a special story unto itself, as when we got together, we were able to bond as he shared his wisdom with me. This bond continued as we saw each other several times a year, and we have indeed become friends. Drumming in terms of musicality and playing ‘for the music’ is always the cornerstone of his teachings and in my playing. This relationship has been, well, ‘instrumental’.
After being hired for a Jazz band north of New York City, I knew I had a new direction to travel in. Again, as life and the business sometimes dictate, I moved on to form my own ensemble as I met with the great Jazz Icon keyboard player Rahn Burton. I met Rahn, we played that night and a beautiful bond formed. Our kinship and collaboration grew and we continued our journey together for about 5 years before he passed. Rahn played with some of the all time greats including Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Stanley Turrentine, Buddy Guy, Jack Bruce, Max Roach, Philly Jo Jones, Roy Haynes, and many, many more.
Like Adam, his influence represents a bridge to Jazz as it was formed, evolved, and is shared between musicians. Unfortunately, such a bridge was, in my opinion, severely damaged when the likes of Miles, ‘Trane, Monk, and so many more of that ilk went away. The concept of carrying, sharing, and the handing off the torch is something that had become a casualty of the modern era and I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to grow as those before me did.
The thirst for more continued and along the way, it was my privilege to play with many other great pro’s including Bill Crow, Bill Davis, Rick Kriska, John Castleman, Mark Tonelli, Christopher Brellochs, Kim Clarke, Derrick James, Waldron Ricks, and many more.
The evolution continues. Personally and as a group, experiences and credits include festivals, clubs, and gigs of all sizes. Some examples are The Rainbow Room, City of Peekskill Jazz and Blues Festival, Newburgh Jazz Series, and of course, New York City. Some of the best satisfaction has also come from bringing the music to venues that never thought they’d have Jazz- and especially at this level. I am happy to say that some long term relationships have been formed with these venues as well.
But evolution is just that. And Jazz, by design, captures the very essence of the spirit of evolution and musical freedom- as long as it is done properly, for the song and for the people who join the experience. On a regular basis, I get to sit in the best seat in the house as I play with great musicians and bond with the audience. I watch them smile, sway, close their eyes and flow with us, and react. This sharing is the essence of why I do this. Whether playing background in a dinner club, or in front of thousands at a festival, it’s all about the bond and enjoyment that always captures the spirit.
A fine pianist who began playing professionally in Louisville during the '50s. He started with Rahsaan Roland Kirk in 1953, and toured with him through the Midwest for six years. One of Kirk's earliest Argo albums included a Burton composition. Burton toured with George Adams playing organ in the mid-'60s, following engagements in New York, Syracuse and Louisville, then worked in Atlanta with Sirone. Burton rejoined Kirk in the late '60s, playing with him until the mid-70s and making several recordings. He formed his own band, the African-American Connection, in the early '70s and continued heading them at various points. He's played and recorded with Michael Carvin, Stanley Turrentine, Leon Thomas, Carlos Garnett, Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Charlie Rouse, Adams and Beaver Harris.
We played together on a regular basis from 2008 until 2012, when he hired me to join his Quartet at Cleopatra's Needle in NYC. It was a wonderful night and that was the last time we were together before his passing. He was truly a bridge to Jazz- past, and that bridge is now gone. Along the way, though, he helped teach me how to swim in rough waters. It was quite a trip.