Kansas City, my home town was a different world back in the 60’s. I was lucky. My whole family was musical, educated and driven by the arts. My dad was a psychiatrist, my mother a social worker. Both played classical piano 4-hands for fun. My older brother played piano, cello, harp, recorder and finally pipe organ. My sisters both played piano but showed more interest in theatre. The Doctor and Mrs. ran a summer camp for kids called Camellot, eventually passing the baton to Gina and Vida. My sisters expanded it into a full time fine arts academy. My house was almost like growing up in conservatory.
My first musical recollection was picking out Ravel’s Bolero on the piano around age 5 or 6, so my mom started me on classical piano with Naomi Wilson and then her daughter Della Chester. After showing some promise playing big flashy pieces at their recitals, I went on to study at the Conservatory of Music (University of Missouri at Kansas City). By then I started flute lessons with Gary Sigurdson, principal flutist with the Kansas City Symphony. Under his guidance I won an audition to play 10 concerts as guest soloist with the Kansas City Symphony conducted by Hans Schweiger. We played a movement from a Mozart flute Concerto in D Major. This was age 11, and playing in front of 2000 people ten times with a full orchestra behind me must have conditioned me to zen into the music rather than become nervous.
I continued to study both piano and flute, but the next important phase for me was one of discovery. I found it easy and fun to play rock and roll. I started playing in bands covering songs like Louie Louie, Money, Rascals tunes and more eclectic things like Walk Away Rene. I taught myself to improvise and started writing original music for no particular reason. My soon-to-be brother in law Jack Phillips turned me on to Dave Brubeck’s Time Out album--and that was it. I absolutely fell in love with this music and at the same time heard Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Mann and eventually Chick Corea and many more jazz artists. I immediately worked out “In Crowd” and the entire Herbie Mann Live at the Village Gate album note for note on flute. Then came Herbie Hancock and a world of music that was sophisticated and difficult to play. I switched taking lessons from George Salisbury to John Elliot. John was the Kansas City guru of jazz teachers. He taught practically everyone back then, even Pat Metheny.
I attended the University of Kansas after Shawnee Mission East High school, but didn’t decide on a music career until my 2nd year. I was not happy with KU’s narrow stuffy approach and was once asked to leave the practice rooms for not playing classical music. I understand it’s a much hipper music school now, but I couldn’t seem to embrace 20th century music and atonalism at that point. I didn’t realize that it would become important to me later. So, I quit school and joined a band called Sanctuary. This was an extraordinary group that attracted the attention of Mike Post in L.A. He was interested in producing us.
I eventually move to Los Angeles to be a studio musician. I prepared for this by practicing 4-6 hours a day and continuing lessons with John Elliot. By the time I got there Mike Post had already gone from being a hit record producer to the hottest TV composer in town. He still produced lots of record dates and really helped me cut my teeth. But he suggested that I learn to write for picture and showed me the basics.
Quitting school meant I hadn’t studied arranging, orchestration or counterpoint so I had to study privately on the fly, while writing cues for shows like Hunter and A-Team. I eventually divided my time by touring with the Pointer Sisters, Keith Carradine, the Hudson Brothers, Jack Mack and the Heart Attack and Neil Sedaka, playing rehearsal piano for Dolly Parton, Cher, Mac Davis, Bette Midler, Patti LaBelle and Jeffrey Osborn and doing one-off performances with Stevie Wonder, Susan Anton, Billy Preston, Marilyn McCoo, Lynn Anderson and many more.
Through Danny Lux, a young talented protege of Mike Post, I was given the opportunity to write music for Ally McBeal, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sliders, My Name Is Earl, Boston Public, Boston Legal, Party of Five, Pretender, Scrubs, Profiler, and Harry’s Law. But I also played keyboards on a number of shows including L.A. Law, Hillstreet Blues, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, and Cop Files; as well as some independent work as a composer on Railway Adventures Across Europe, Air Hammer, My Two Dads, scores of corporate videos, jingles and music for athletic competitions. I’ve performed on TV with various artists on the Tonight Show, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve, Today Show, Good Morning America, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, and Top of the Pops in England.
Some of the recordings I’ve contributed to are Swordfishtrombones- Tom Waits, Everybody Has a Story- Phil Vassar (up for a Grammy) Shot In the Dark- Gloria Loring (Grammy nominated), Christmas Album- Kenny Rogers, The Pee Wee Herman Show album, The Good Times- Neil Sedaka, Headshrinker- Cory Stevens, DeLovely- the movie, Miss You Like I Do- Lisa Hartman Black, and Thin Blue Line- Mike Post.
During those years I did sign with Moodtapes as a new-age recording artist and recorded 4 CDs. Tranquility and Energy got quite a bit of radio play and sold well worldwide.
When I moved to Nashville I enrolled at Belmont University to finish my degree in music composition. I was subsequently accepted at the Academy of Art University San Francisco to teach music on-line which I still do. I still play in bands, do recording projects, write for TV and teach piano and B3 privately, but I have focused my writing on piano and decided to do the one thing most natural to me yet until now, completely untapped: become a solo piano artist. I have just released my 1st piano CD entitled: “Follow Your Heart”. I’m performing now as a solo artist and loving it! I write prolifically in this medium, still take piano lessons and continue on my current journey through this wonderful medium of instrumental music.