I am primarily a jazz composer. A wide range of influences are found in my music including tango, blues, samba, fusion, ragtime, new music, and back to American roots music. A quirky humor is found in much of my work.
I have a large number of original tunes and extended pieces written in a lead sheet format. They can be easily adapted for solo instruments and small groups. I especially like to write for mid-size jazz ensemble, tango-jazz band, woodwind quintet, and other ensembles as I feel inspired.
Jazz Composition, Berklee College of Music 1968.
BA Composition, McKendree University 1973.
MA Composition, New Mexico Highlands University 1974.
Jazz and classical composition teachers include Herb Pomeroy, Charlie Mariano, William Maloof, John Bavicchi, Dr. Robert Wykes, Dr. Stephanie Owen, and Dr. Champ Tyrone.
Listed in International Who's Who in Music.
A selection of my music is licensed for use in TV, film, theater, and other media. See the music licensing page on my website for details:
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I am a fan of the mid-size ensemble and the creative possibilities it offers.
2008 was a transition time for me. I had become tired of conventional big bands. As I looked for something different a dream came to me about a smaller and more flexible kind of band. It was a 13-piece ensemble with 4 saxophone & woodwind doublers, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and cello. I heard the band in this dream and its sound was fresh and exciting.
I began to talk with musician friends about the band and a core group expressed interest. I quickly realized that I would need to scale down its size due to player availability. I used 3 saxes & woodwinds, trumpet, bass clarinet, tuba, 5-string electric violin, guitar, bass, and drums. Over the next few months I wrote a series of scores for this instrumentation. While the group had only a short life as a rehearsal band, hearing this music gave me a confirmation of the concepts I was developing for a mid-size ensemble.
As a next step, an idea came to me about writing scores for flexible instrumentation instead of specified instruments as I had always done. The scores are concert pitch with the wind instrument parts identified as Line I, Line II, etc. Transposed parts are provided for an assortment of instruments within the range of each line. This enables the music to be performed by many configurations of instruments. A horn section can have specific instruments or be built around available players. Flexibility!
One of the ensemble configurations that I am attracted to is alto flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon. That is, a woodwind quintet with alto flute replacing C flute. Instead of approaching a mid-size ensemble as a smaller version of a big band, I envision a woodwind quintet – with each instrument having a distinct tone color – as a role model.
Instrumentation for the rhythm section is also flexible. At a minimum, a trio is needed with bass, drums, and piano or guitar. Additional instruments can be used such as accordion, marimba, vibes, electronics, percussion, etc.
Along with flexible instrumentation I decided that it would be more practical to use 5 or 6 wind instruments instead of 8 (as I saw in the dream) for a horn section. 5-horn jazz ensembles are fairly common. I first wrote several scores for 5 horns; however, I settled on 6 as being the optimal number for my writing. My latest scores are written for featured soloist, 5 wind instruments and rhythm section. The soloist has both solo and ensemble roles.
As my concepts evolved for a mid-size ensemble I discovered that, from my perspective, I can be more creative in writing for 6 horns than for a conventional big band. Why? With one player on a line, each line can have an individual tone color. Then, the 6 lines can be blended, juxtaposed, crossed, and voiced in creative ways horizontally and vertically. This creates an ensemble sound that is based upon an interplay of color and an emphasis on the individuality -- bringing out the musical personality -- of each player.
As I envision it, this approach to an ensemble is fundamentally different from what I think of as defining features of a conventional big band: harmonized saxophone, trumpet, and trombone sections with each player blending his individual sound and personality into the homogenized collective sound of a section.
Additionally, with an ensemble of this size it can have a level of creative freedom that, most likely, would be problematic with a larger number of players. I like to extend a jazz soloist's freedom to the rest of the ensemble in various ways in my scores. This enables the music to change, evolve, and be a fresh experience for both the musicians and the audience each time it is performed.
While I have focused on 6 horns and one player on a line, another dream came to me recently in which I saw my music being played by a larger ensemble with two (or more) musicians on each line. This option of having doubled parts -- with either same or different instruments on a part -- is an easy way for larger ensembles or big bands to use my scores. (A Big Band Misconception has more about this idea.)
The pieces completed so far are Blues For Lester, Baltimore Rowhouse, Sleepy Creek Samba,Appalachian Awakening, Salt Marsh Rag, New Tango No. 1, Connecticut Avenue SUVs, and Smaller Ups And Downs. Stylistically, the music covers a wide range from American roots music to avant-garde. Ensembles interested in performing this music can write to me from Contact.
Born in 1946 in Kansas City, MO, I discovered jazz at an early age thanks to my mother’s collection of big band recordings. I started on alto saxophone when I was 9 and developed an interest in composition in my early teens. This led me to study composition & arranging at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
At Berklee, I studied jazz composition with Herb Pomeroy and Charlie Mariano, classical composition with William Maloof and John Bavicchi, and woodwinds with Joe Viola. Afterwards, I studied with Dr. Robert Wykes, Dr. Stephanie Owen, and Dr. Champ Tyrone. I received a B.A. in composition from McKendree University and a M.A. in composition from New Mexico Highlands University.
After working as a composer-arranger, music director, professional musician, and educator, I found that I needed to have a different way to support my family. I made a career change in 1977 to become an analyst and worked at Southwestern Bell, Bell Atlantic, Fannie Mae, and DecisionPath Consulting for what became a 34-year career. Due to a busy work and family schedule I was away from music for 12 years.
A business transfer from Missouri to Maryland in 1983 became an important development in my music. When I started to compose again in 1989 much of the new music was directly inspired by my life in Maryland -- in particular, by places that have a special meaning to me such as the Appalachian Mountains and Chesapeake Bay. During this time I began to explore an interest in fiddle music after hearing old-time fiddle players in West Virginia. It was easy for me to envision Appalachian music as an early branch of the jazz family tree.
As my concepts continued to evolve, jazz and roots music along with tango, blues, contemporary classical, and other kinds of music became intertwined in unusual ways in my writing. For the next 22 years I composed as I was able between my work and family lives. Over 600 pieces were written during that period in a broad range of styles. I retired from systems work in 2011 or as I prefer to say, "I made a career change back to music". Now, I have more time for music projects.
While I have been composing for many years, I did not have a good way for others to hear my music for much of that time. I prefer to focus on composition and have other musicians perform it. In 2010 I began to use various internet resources as a way for more people to hear and discover my work. Positive responses have been gratifying. My music now has friends in many countries around the world.
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