the bar

I’m someone who aspires to my best, in every endeavor. Music has been my teacher, in this philosophy. There are facets of our lives that we allow to be insulated from our commitment to excellence. We arbitrarily decide to discard our standards when a particular task is tedious or challenging or seemingly unimportant to us. […]

Happy birthday to Curtis Fuller!

I remember when I first realized I was infected by his musical spirit. I had begun listening to his music and with no effort, my own playing changed. Many years later, I found myself spending a day at the passport office with him. We were both headed to Austria with Slide Hampton’s World of Trombones. […]

Vitamin Jazz

Yesterday, I performed, in Trenton, NJ with the Captain Black Big Band. Given that I prefer to be early, I took an earlier train than I needed. Upon arrival in Trenton, Orrin Evans prompted me to grab a cab and head to the nearby Candlelight Lounge, where Bruce Williams, Brandon McCune, Ryan Berg and Noel […]

top floor, please

A few years ago, cancer became a part of our reality when Kiku Collins was diagnosed, a few weeks after our marriage. The cancer was like an unseen villain lurking in the shadows and ready to cause trouble at any time. But, conversely, the treatment for the cancer caused visible pain and anguish for Kiku […]

The Last Train

As I sit on the train preparing to make my final trek of the academic year to SUNY Geneseo, I’m thinking about my students preparing to graduate.  I’ve been fortunate in my life to experience a great deal of failure and I’ve found failure to be my most consistent teacher.  The role of college teacher […]

the real music

Last night, we celebrated our neighbor Joanie’s 80th birthday with a little pregame at the apartment before heading to Swing 46, for the gig. We sipped and snacked and laughed. There were four of us, so we opted to take a cab up the 20 blocks to the venue. We piled into the cab and […]

the destination

Years ago, upon moving to NYC, I was in the uncomfortable situation of needing work. The bills had to be paid and I was willing to do anything. I took a “day gig” working for a music publisher and accepted every gig offer that came my way. Many times, I was frustrated. As I was […]

The Party is NOW

This time of year is so GREAT. Work is plentiful and FAMILY is together. As a freelancer, the trick is to stay in the moment without looking ahead. It’s easy to look a couple of weeks forward in the calendar and start fretting about the time when everyone has to go and the gigs start […]

Thanks, Smokey

We thoroughly enjoyed our beautiful holiday weekend that gave us all the facets that life has to offer. We enjoyed time with good friends and time with one another. There was music and there was loss, as we said, “Good-bye” to our feline friend, Smokey. He was the only consistent member of my life for […]

one is none

I love the similarities between basketball and jazz. The players you enjoy the most are those who look to pass first rather than always take the shot. They take their shot when that’s what helps the team. They’re always ready and looking for the pass. In the best situations, all the passes are “no-look” and […]