Sixty-one years and counting…..

Last year Michael Franks released a new CD, titled “The Music in My Head”. I am happy to say that once again, I was able to contribute vocally to the recording. I feel that all of Michael’s work is amazing, but this one stands as a masterpiece of brilliance that only Mr. Franks can deliver. Perfectly summed up and edified in only the way he can do it. 

A straight-ahead testament to all that is Michael Franks.

I started touring with Michael in 1993, the Dragon Fly Summer tour. And now 25 years later, I can honestly say that Michael’s music and talent as a singer-songwriter continues to inspire and motivate me to be the best that I can be as an artist and to have determined aspirations to write songs that will impact people’s lives in way that they are encouraged and brings happiness.

left, bottom to top- Sonny , Terry, Clint, Chris, me, Jay, Charles, Michael, Livingston, Logan.

The second week of January I attended the Jazz Congress 2019 at Jazz At Lincoln Center, sponsored by Adam R. Rose. There were a plethora of panels and workshops that covered a wide range of topics relating to the music industry. One event, in particular, was Art Blakey Centennial Celebration, the keynote session for the two-day program. On October 11, Art Blakey would have become a centenarian. The program began with the presentation of the Bruce Lundvall Visionary Award to Darlene Chan. Assembled on stage were the numerous musicians who have played in the Blakey band over the years. Of course there were many absent, still, it was impressive to see all who had worked with him.

The alumni of Art Blakey’s band.

“One is not a genuine leader if one does not foster capable successors. True success cannot be achieved without fostering talented individuals and nurturing their potential.

Daisuku Ikeda

After the welcome introduction and presentation, the moderator, Celine Peterson (WBGO), began asking the assembled guest musicians to talk about their “time” with Mr. Blakey. It was at that moment, the word longevity popped into my head. I’ve used the word thousands of time but I wanted to really look up the meaning and to make sure my understanding of the word was close to the textbook definition. A Google search for the answer came up with 1. Long life; 2. Long existence or service. It was curious how both these explanations were applicable. Definition two, for instance, Long existence or service; I am not sure if anyone on stage that evening had been with Blakey for 25 years, maybe, but even so, they all performed a service with the band whatever amount of time spent.  And as long as they honor the man they will continue to serve the spirit of how Mr. Blakey’s artistry influenced their lives as musicians.

How does the long life fit in? There were those who started performing with Mr. Blakey when they were young and although they were not close to 100 years old, albeit there were some there that were, at least, in their late eighties, this fit the long life. Art Blakey’s leadership, mentoring those around him, built and sustained a legacy that manifests in the lives of the musicians that are still living, playing and celebrating the soul of the music he generously shared with the world.

“One tall tree does not make a forest. Unless other trees grow to the same height, you cannot have a large grove. A true leader is devoted to raising capable people to whom the future can be entrusted.”

Daisuku Ikeda

Yes, Africa!

Happy 2005!!!! Yeah, I know it’s been 5 months already.
It’s going to take me at least 3 blogs to catch up with all that’s been happening. This past year has been one exciting and unbelievable journey for me. Let’s see, where shall I start. For starters one of my entries I wrote about not going to Africa. Well, we finally made it and what an extraordinary place it is. I really didn’t have any expectations about the trip. We were in Johannesburg and Cape Town. It was amazing to see how many fans Michael has there. They were dancing and singing the lyrics to the songs. Shouting out requests of their favorite tunes.

I didn’t really get out that much in Johannesburg, but in Cape Town, I was a true tourist. Of course, I did the usual shopping for souvenirs for friends and family and let’s not forget the self. We shopped at a couple of places. One was located right on the ocean and the artists were sitting on the beach carving the statues, talking to each other. It was quite a visual forever imprinted. The other place was an outdoor market with aisles and aisles of basically the same thing. It was really difficult buying from one vendor and not the other considering they had the same stuff.

I’ve included some of the photos I took on the trip. One shot is of a young South African woman who was incredibly proficient on the djembe. We also road this cable car up to the top of this very high mountain that overlooks the ocean and the town, there’s a shot of that. Breathtaking. I’m always intrigued by how a thin little cable can hold up so many people. A view shot and the last one of the guys hanging out. One night in particular, after a performance the owner of a local restaurant held it open for us to have dinner there. The thing that I remember the most about this restaurant was it was upstairs overlooking the beach and that we had Japanese cuisine there and it struck me as funny that I would be eating Japanese food in Africa. The days magnificent, the nights magical. Very grateful for that experience.


I’ve been out and about creating new experiences for myself. Last week I was touring with Michael Franks and we had the honor to go to Tblisi, Georgia, a republic of the Soviet Union.  Wow, I’m still trying to find words to describe that experience.  I would have to say that it is in the top 5 of my Life Changing Experience list. The warmth and generosity of the people there have renewed my own faith in life and being human, not to mention reaffirming my reason for wanting to be a musician in the first place. Serg, wherever you are right now, I am formally thanking you and the wonderful crew of partners that you worked with to make it possible for us to play there.  You’re the man!!!!

While on that neck of the tour, we, of course, visited Russia of the Soviet Union.

Now on to even more exciting news.  I’ve just been added to the playlist of WBGO, and for those of you who are in the New York, New Jersey area, that would be 88.3 on your FM dial. I’m in heaven. Those of you who know me, know how long I’ve been out here playing my music. I moved to New York about 27 years ago and I have been listening to WBGO for 25 years. To finally get radio play on this station, my favorite has become a dream come true for me, but more than that it’s like an affirmation for hanging in there and continuing to “beat the dead horse”.  I would like to thank Gary Walker the music director for giving me an opportunity to get my music out and around and also a warm appreciation goes to Dan Karcher. on air, for his support and reminding me about my Blog. Oh, and one more thing, congratulations on your 25 years of great music WBGO, I’m looking forward to listening for another 25 years.