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

My Day with Gary Walker at WBGO 88.3

On April 18th, 2007, at 8:00 am we arrived at WBGO’s station, located in Newark, NJ.  It was a chilly overcast day and I was really nervous.  We were greeted at the door by Mr. Walker.  His friendly smile quickly erased all of my fears of making a fool out of myself.  We walked down a hallway that had these wonderful pictures on the wall.  We found out later that it was an exhibit of an artist that photographed places in the south that looked as if time had stood still.  Our walk ended in a sitting room that looked into the announcing area of the studio.  There was a table there, that had fresh fruit and coffee.  Mr. Walker was finishing up the first half of his morning show which begins at 6:00 am.  I was scheduled to go on at 9:00 am.

The funny thing about this interview was, I thought that it was only going to last around 15 minutes.  You know, announcing the new CD, I say a few words and then off I go.  But instead, it was an entire hour. An hour spent with an intelligent, witty man, extremely knowledgable about this music that I love so much.  And from his enthusiasm, I could tell he loved it as much as I did. The hour passed so quickly that it could have easily been that 15 minutes I originally thought would be the length of my interview with Mr. Walker.

Now you might say, “you’ve done radio interviews before, what makes this one so special?”  Well, when I moved to New York City, I listened to WBGO.  It was THE radio station and still is, for real jazz.  At the time, I thought how incredible it would be to hear myself on that station.  I guess that’s every musician’s dream, to hear themselves on the radio. Little did I know that over thirty years later that would be a reality.

We started off with a couple of cuts from the CD at the top of the hour and then we talked a bit.  Mr. Walker had certainly done his homework and it showed with the ease in which the interview was conducted.  This was the format for the rest of the hour. Music, then talk.  It was really easy to laugh with Gary and I felt as though I had known him all of my life and that we were just sitting, shooting the breeze. It was fascinating being behind the scenes of my favorite radio station and meeting some of the on-air personalities.  Everyone was so laid back, sort of what one would expect at a jazz radio station.

This blog is a thank you to Gary Walker for having vision, integrity and the courage to take a chance on a relatively unknown musician, but one who has over three decades of history in the jazz world. To acknowledge this is a rare thing to find these days in the music business.  And most importantly, for helping me make a long-held dream into a reality.

I can’t wait to do it again.  So I better get to work and get out the next CD!


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.