I started playing keyboards (actually accordion - stop smirking!) back
in 1965; several of my uncles played, so it was naturally the
instrument I'd choose first. I actually attempted to improvise over the
tunes I was learning (my teacher was somewhat amazed that I'd come out
with reasonable lines - he had me work on very simple standards), as
well as work on rock tunes. (Imagine the Beatles and Cream on the
accordion. Does your head hurt yet?) I studied for 5 years - while it's
fun to belittle the accordion, especially back then, I learned a LOT
from my teacher (he played around the NYC area quite a bit and
emphasized solid time and reading and theory skills), and don't regret
it at all.
I stopped playing regularly for a few years, I just picked up a cheap
little acoustic and banged away at it using the chord boxes in the old
Beatle books. At 14 I started getting more serious, and at 16 I started
practicing as much as I could, but still didn't take lessons on the
guitar. (I REALLY regret that - I would've grown so much faster had I
found a good teacher.) I learned from records (great for the ear, as we
all know), various books, and Guitar Player magazines columnists - by
18 I was gigging, but also growing weary of the various rock players I
was listening to at the time.
Guitar Player helped in my development - I was intrigued at the
interviews with people such as Pat Martino, John McLaughlin, Jimmy
Raney, etc., so I started investigating their playing. The fusion days
were helpful as well - listening to Return to Forever, Weather Report,
Tony Williams Lifetime, etc. leads you to check out the players'
previous history, and THAT leads you to Coltrane, Miles, and the rest
of the pantheon of jazz.
I decided, after two years of majoring in accounting, that I DIDN'T
want to be an accountant - I was spending all my free time jamming,
gigging when I could, teaching, and practicing, so I thought it would
be best to focus on music. I started studying classical guitar - great
teacher in NY, but that just wasn't what I wanted to play. I continued
the study of classical theory with Herbert Sucoff of the Sea Cliff
Chamber Players, and started studying guitar with Howard Morgen (THE
MAN!). I learned VOLUMES from Howie - if I had to credit my musical
development to any one person, it's him. I started teaching in earnest,
up to 70 students per week, gigging with my fusion band "Visions", with
two great players, Greg Jolly and Jeff Indyke (if anyone reading this
knows of Greg's whereabouts, please tell him to drop me an email!),
doing sessions, jamming, and playing weddings and clubdates.
The '80s were spent on Long Island and in NYC with music, but teaching,
weddings and clubdates started to burn me out - it's not what I got
into music for, so I decided I'd be better off leaving the profession.
I did my last gig for some time playing with the Phil Costa Something
Special big band - great group of guys, great players, and a real
blast! - and plunged into the WORLD OF SOFTWARE. (OK, it's not THAT
momentous, but at the time I thought it was...) I didn't play much in
the '90s - I needed new inspiration and to clear my mind. I finally
decided to get back into playing recently - I have to thank my wife
primarily, who subtly pushed me back into it, and also Kurt
Rosenwinkel, by way of a good friend, Rob Cecil, who took me to see
Kurt at the Flynn Space up here in Burlington Vermont. Kurt played a
trio show, all standards ('Round Midnight, Soul Eyes, etc.), and all of
a sudden the fire was rekindled.
I'm now happily playing jazz only, as well as accepting students who
want to learn theory, technique, improv, and reading, and I'm currently
revamping my seven string solo guitar repertoire so I can pick up a few
solo gigs as well - feel free to contact me for lessons or if you need
a jazz group for your event; no venue is too small or large!