Q May I tape your show?
A That varies. Some of my more straight-ahead jazz shows include musicians who are not accustomed to the taping practices of younger audiences and they aren’t good with it. If they say no, I say no. Most of my shows are OK to tape as long as the venue is OK with it. That’s between you and them! You can’t patch into the board. Please keep your gear out of the sightline of other audience members and please don’t make bootleg cds! Tape, listen but please don’t sell.
Q Do you give private lessons?
A No, sorry, I haven’t for many years. I like teaching but I really don’t have time for the individual lessons. If and when touring slows down (it will someday for sure) I’ll get back to teaching again.
Q Do you teach at NYU?
A Yes…I teach ensembles for students enrolled at NYU.
Q Can my band open for your show?
A When there are shows with an opener, we almost always rely on the promoter to choose the opening act. They know better than I do who has a good local draw and (hopefully) will be compatible with the group I’m coming with. The one thing we ask of promoters—no opening acts with guitar as the primary focus. Too much guitar for one night!
Q Can I send you my music? Will you listen to it and give me feedback?
A Sorry no. This is probably what I get asked most and I just don’t have time to listen to and comment on hundreds of extra cds every year—though I’m sure I miss out on a lot of great music. There’s a lot of music out there. I’m not comfortable critiquing other people anyway. If you gave me a cd at a gig, I probably didn’t listen to it. It’s nothing personal; I’m just busy all the time.
Q Will you give me a quote about my music?
A Sorry again but no.
Q Do you like playing jazz or rock jazz best?
A I like all of it—and the influences of many styles creep into my playing regardless of the “genre” of the moment.
Q How can I get my career started?
A Be different; stand out with your own voice. Play really well; play really well in environments where people hear you. Your career will get started if you merit great word-of-mouth. If you have really good musicians playing with you and talking about you, it will help. That being said, I know more excellent musicians than I can name who really aren’t all that happy with they way their careers have gone/are going. This is a rough business and I don’t know how I would feel if I were starting out today. It’s much smaller than it used to be. It’s the music that counts, not much else.
Q Can you help me get my career started?
A No, sorry. I’m pretty tied up keeping track of my own.
Q How can I improve my playing?
A Practice as much as you can, play with other people—preferably people who are more experienced so they pull you up to their level. Listen to music—all kinds of music—and expand your musical vocabulary. Practice.
Q What was it like playing with Miles Davis?
A An education on a lot of levels. He was a one-of-a-kind man.
Q Do you have a lead sheet for ________ that I can have? If not, is it commercially available somewhere?
A I get asked this a lot and am not set up to provide the music but there are a few charts available here on the site which will be changed/updated infrequently (see the music page). I hope someday to get it together or hook up with an organization that will provide this service for reasonable fees. My focus has been on writing and playing and this is an aspect of “the business” that hasn’t really caught up.
Q Should I go to a regular college or a music school?
A That’s a big question that’s very hard to answer. There’s no right answer that I can give and it depends on who you are and your own circumstances. I hope that you have a good relationship with your family and school advisors to help you make this decision. A lot of colleges have excellent music departments and you can do both and other stuff. I went to Berklee because all I cared about was music at that time. I don’t know what I would do if I had it to do today.
Q Touring is a lot of fun, right?
A Playing is great, hanging with musicians and crew is usually a real pleasure. BUT missing home and family, staying in hotels, riding in buses and (worst of all) the airport experiences and flying are not enjoyable in any way. It’s never like a vacation with sightseeing, etc. though we do squeeze in great meals occasionally. This is the real price I pay to get to play and earn a living as a musician.
Q Are your kids musicians?
A Yes but more for fun than profit though they both perform. Jean (bass, vocals) is a music producer at an advertising agency. Evan (banjo and vocals and a good songwriter) was a writer.
Q What is a Toog?
A Depends on who you ask but I think that Toogs is short for Two Dogs. My wife says it’s short for Two Girls. Either way—Annie and Betty were the Toogs—nervous little weinerdogs.
Q Who’s your favorite guitar player? (bass, drums, sax, piano, etc)
A If I had an answer to that (which I don’t) I wouldn’t give it!
Q You don’t ever drink or get high on anything?
A No, never anymore—not for a long time. I used up my entire allotment earlier in my life. Last call was decades ago for me.