Smooth Artist Interviews
How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
I can remember as a child listening to music and being transported inside myself to places that were more fun, desirable and beautiful than where I was at the time. I took musical vacations from the harsh realities of school and family by slapping on a pair of headphones and disappearing for a while. Music, especially instrumental jazz, really helped me to develop a vivid and creative imagination.
The overall concept for Designated Planets was simply to produce music that reminded me of those desirable places I visited as a child. The ultimate goal is to provide the listener a pleasant escape so that he or she could travel at any time to many different musical "planets".
What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?
The elements I look for in a song, especially for live performances are the audience participation factors and the band exhilaration factors. I really want to engage the audience in every way possible and at the same time keep the members of the band excited and challenged.
Who would you say has been the single biggest influence in your life in getting you to where you are now in your career?
I would say my wife; Yvonne has been the single biggest influence in my life. She was a practicing attorney when I reunited with her in 1994 and has always been an avid jazz lover since I first met her in 1978. She started the JazzBridge Music label to give me an unbridled outlet for my music to see the light of day outside of Spyro Gyra. I never would of continued to pursue a solo career if it wasn't for her.
What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?
I've always been proud of my music. But I haven't always been proud of me. There are so many personal facets to being a real gentleman and an honorable person. Your actions speak louder than words. But your word should be your bond! So when I decided to quit alcohol shortly after marrying Yvonne, I discovered the real me. I am very proud of my discipline to take control of my weaknesses and live the life of an honest man. As a result, my career has become more meaningful to me... more spiritual.
How would you finish this sentence? "I don't like to go a day without_________?
"I don't like to go a day without telling my wife how much I love, respect and appreciate her".
What would your top "desert island" classic albums be, regardless of genre... the albums you turn to time after time for your own personal enjoyment and inspiration?
Miles Davis - My Funny Valentine
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
Weather Report - Mysterious Traveller
Bill Evans - The Vanguard Sessions