How did your new album and forthcoming EP come about, and what are your ultimate goals for them?
My current Project Grand Slam album, "The Queenís Carnival", and our new upcoming release this Spring, both truly reflect the two major themes of my musical career Ė rock and jazz. I feel like the music on these recordings best captures what Iím all about as an artist. Iím really looking forward to further touring and getting the music out there, as the audience reaction has been great so far!
Who would you say has been the single biggest influence in your life in getting you to where you are now in your career?
My dad. He played the trumpet Ė weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, club dates, etc. He had very little formal musical education but he had a great ear and great musical instincts. He supported me musically every step of the way.
What would your top ďdesert islandĒ classic albums be, regardless of genreÖthe albums you turn to time after time for your own personal enjoyment and inspiration?
I came of age musically during the jazz fusion period in the '70s, so albums like "Heavy Weather" (Weather Report), and "Light As A Feather" (Chick Corea and Return To Forever) Iíve been playing regularly ever since then. Cream and Hendrix were also big influences on me so I would add "Wheels Of Fire" and "Are You Experienced". I love Stingís solo material so letís include "Ten Summoner's Tales". And "Abbey Road" is simply a masterpiece for the ages.
Outside of your musical career, what else in your life gets you excited and fulfilled?
I have two motivating influences in my life at this point Ė my music and my family. I have a 20 month old granddaughter who Iím just crazy about. And Iím an obsessed tennis player!
Going back in your life as far as you can remember, what song or performance is the first you recall hearing and being affected by?
Thatís easy. Iím a child of the '60s, and it all started for me Ė and for a lot of my peers Ė the moment that I heard the Beatles and saw them perform on the Ed Sullivan show. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
If you were asked (and we are asking now!) for your advice as to what the Smooth jazz format could do moving forward to insure it relevance and growth, what would your suggestions be?
I would hope that the smooth jazz format loosens up a bit. My music is definitely edgier than a lot of smooth jazz. And I do unique covers of classic rock songs. But Iíve found that the large number of Boomers in the smooth jazz audience totally get what Iím doing and love this music!
What are some of the most important goals you have for yourself in the next five to ten years?
I want to continue to grow and develop as an artist. I love the process of writing new songs, presenting them to the band, seeing them develop, recording them and then playing them at concerts. Itís very much like the birth process! I hope that PGS can continue to grow and captivate crowds all around the world.