Q: What are you up to currently?
A: I've been reworking my children's project, BOOMER, which will have a new name, new look and some exciting new tunes! I'm shooting for a Christmas '09 release date and bookings for the live show in 2010. Bob Bass is mixing the CD in L.A. as we speak. Bob's a monster talent who's been working on DVD bonus features for Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Scrubs. I made sure to showcase some of my talented students on the recording as well. Nobody ever forgets the experience of playing on their first recording! Needless to say, kids' recordings are excellent vehicles for showcasing the products you endorse. Ludwig-Musser, Zildjian, Vic Firth - we're all excited about the possibilities.
I also scored a feature film this year "The Donut, the Balloon and the Lifesaver" by Banks Helfrich, to be featured at film festivals including The Washougal International, Tacoma and Strausbourg International Film Festival in France.
On the publishing front, Tapspace Publications will be launching at least a dozen of my arrangements at November's Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, IN. Classics by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and originals by yours truly will be offered for soloists and ensembles of up to twelve players. Many of the selections are tunes that have appeared on my recordings. Hopefully, they'll provide for some entertaining listening for aspiring percussionists and audiences alike.
Q: What was your first instrument?
A: Drums. I started in a fife and drum corps at age 7 and had a full kit by my 10th birthday. I focused on rock and pop, Beatles to Hendrix, until I realized that in order to gain entrance to a musical conservatory I needed to diversify. My high school band and choral teachers exposed me to quality music and encouraged studies in melodic percussion as well as drums. I'm forever grateful to them.
Q: Who were your most influential teachers?
A: Two of my favorites were Saul Goodman and Buster Bailey at the Juilliard School. Although I wasn't always in accordance with Mr. Goodman's approach, he had great energy and a deep respect for the music. Buster Bailey had a very practical approach to teaching; the kind which enables one to teach themselves long after the lessons have stopped. I expect Buster's teachings to have a far reaching effect for generations to come. I found Alexander Lepak at the Hartt School to be the most accomplished musician of them all. He possesses an incomparable sense of rhythm and imparts the tools necessary for applying one's skills in the trade.
Q: Who are some of the great drummers and percussionists you've worked with?
A: Steve Gadd, well, he's Steve Gadd. Peter Erskine, Dave Weckl, Steve Ferrone, Danny Gottlieb, Chris Parker, Grady Tate, Clint De Ganon, Alan Schwartzberg, Andy Newmark, Anton Fig, Mike Maniere and Sammy Figueroa, to name a few. I'd be remiss not to mention some of the monster bass players as well: Will Lee, Anthony Jackson, Tony Levin, Marcus Miller, Neil Jason and Chuck Archard.
Q: Do you endorse any products?
A: William Ludwig, Jr. was the first to sign me to a generous endorsement deal. He and his son, Bill III, played a large part in posturing me for success prior to a record contract. I have maintained a relationship with Ludwig/Musser for over 20 years and still believe that the Musser Company manufactures the finest vibraphones and marimbas in the world. Vic Firth has been a great company to endorse - wonderful products, timely service and commitment to the education of children. Zildjian is also a quality organization and is my cymbal of choice. To further assist my musical needs I proudly endorse these products as well: Alternate Mode/Kat, Remo, Rhythm Tech, GroverPro, Sibelius, Earthtone and Amphibiaphone.
Q: Any advice for young, aspiring musicians?
A: Always be committed to your specific function in a group situation. Go for the music while contributing to the big picture. Don't vegetate in uninspiring situations. Move on in order to let your love for the music be your inspiration...