How would you describe your history and passion for saxophone? What makes you keep playing?
My passion began in elementary school, around 8. At age 7, the Catholic School I attended in Dallas, music was required. I loved that! I wish all the schools today still did that. I believe that music causes reactions. I believe it helps in brain development, etc.
I started on a tonette (recorder). I think it is a little easier than the recorder and studied that for a whole year.
My band teacher – we had to choose band or choir and I chose Saxophone. I wanted to play horn – French horn. My band teacher thought saxophone would be a better instrument for me. I didn’t even know what it was or what it looked like. My friends tried to describe it to me. Well the day came when I got my first saxophone. The next day I played Mary Had a Little Lamb. My band teacher had me play it in front of the band class. I had played it by ear. He said the notes weren’t right but I made music.
We had competitions every week. I am very competitive and I loved that. I would practice and my Grandmother would listen and if I didn’t do it right, she made me do it again.
I loved music and played it. I am 46 years old now. I know that playing music was one of the things I was born to do. I studied music education. As a result, I had to learn to play all instruments to some proficiency. I did not do so well on some instruments. I did well on saxophone though and I’m glad that the instrument chose me. It’s a part of my soul and a part of my life. As I record this, I am listening to music and I know I can go home and play that song.
I have 3 kids; one age 15, one is age 11 and one is age 5. The 15 year old and I as we listen to music, I’ll say, “you should learn that groove” (he is a percussionist). My wife is also a musician. My 11 year old sometimes asks, “Can you play this song, Daddy?” I say, if the song is created, you can play that song and so can you.
My 5 year old and I were sitting in a barber shop a few months ago and he has heard me say this so many times – that if you can hear a song, you can play it. So he heard a song playing and he starts dancing around a little bit and then he said, “Daddy, you can play that song, right?” So, he gets it.
Music is a part of the universal soul. To some extent, even if you say “I can’t do music”, those are generally some of the biggest music fans. It’s a part of your soul and who you are.
Key points of history I would include about myself:
- Growing up in a school system in Dallas, TX (Catholic school). Music was expected and demanded on all levels.
- Moving on to the high school system, one of the band directors who had come to visit us at the elementary school was now the high school band director. One time I had about a week to fill in for a jazz player in a competition. So, I had about a week to learn jazz improvisation. He worked with me before, during and after school. We had a fantastic result in that competition.
- Being in the Dallas area, one of the most fantastic jazz schools on planet Earth is the University of North Texas. To me, it ended up being a choice of do I want to be a jazz performer or a jazz teacher? I leaned toward education which led me to Texas Tech University and I certainly don’t regret that. It’s a fantastic school of music.
- I graduated with a degree in music education and also probably only about 9 hours away from a Music Performance Degree, but at this point, there’s really no need for me to pursue that.
- My family has a high appreciation of music. Music lovers are interesting to me because sometimes I feel that music lovers are even more important to me. I love music lovers.
- I have a deep faith and am a Christian. I love Christian music. I have a deep appreciation for Christian music . It’s something that I love to study and learn about. I love everything from Gregorian chants to a worship service. There’s just something about a deep richness about that. I believe I was created by God to do this.
- In my community, it’s fun because I travel a lot. Since I get to travel a lot, and then a lot of times I’ll go back and play at someone’s event, church service, etc., which is great for me because I really enjoy traveling.
What sets me apart from other musicians and how do I describe my play style?
When I was at Texas Tech University I had an experience that told me that I need to play “my” style of music. I would say that my style is a little unique. I would describe it as lyrical style. I love singing. I grew up in a Baptist church singing in choirs. I have sung in choirs in one way or the other all my life. I like singing. I like vocal styles. I play my saxophone more like a singer than as a saxophone player. That has served me well.
I toured with a friend of mine, Michael Armstrong, for about 8 years. He said, I don’t like saxophones but I like your style and if I played saxophone, I would play your style. Well, he was a singer. I play really smooth. I do play jazz and have the experience and training to fit within the “box” but also try to take it just outside the box a little bit in who I am. I feel I play pretty uniquely. Most people enjoy the way I play. The most important thing is that I enjoy it. So as long as I’m enjoying it and respecting all the styles I play, then I feel like things are going to go well.
Other musical talent that goes hand-in-hand with the way I play:
- Choir. I enjoy gospel choir.
- I enjoy hearing the articulation in choirs where I can hear individual voices, which is difficult to hear because it is multiple people.
- When I was in the school of music, one of the only instruments that I made an A in, was percussion.
- I own a number of percussion instruments in my home and my son is a percussionist so I help him and do use other auxiliary instruments.
Stories or anecdotes from my playing history:
About 9 or 10 years I got to do a jazz tour across Europe, sharing history of jazz, I toured in Great Britain, on to Northern Ireland, Chezk Republic, Hungary.
There are lots of crazy stories along the way and I hope to be doing this for a very long time to come.