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 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, ideas came to me about a smaller and more flexible kind of band. I experimented first with a 10-piece ensemble (electric violin and tuba were featured). While this group had only a short life as a rehearsal band, hearing the scores I wrote for it gave me a confirmation of the direction I was taking.
As a next step, I began to use flexible instrumentation in my scores instead of specifying the instruments as I had done for many years. The scores are concert pitch with the wind instrument parts identified as line I, line II, etc. A set of 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, experiment with different instruments, or be built around available players. Flexibility!
One of the ensemble configurations that I like 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. Another configuration that I like (this one with saxophones and brass) is trumpet, soprano sax, alto sax, trombone, and tuba. With flexible instrumentation and a creative spirit, the tone color possibilities for an ensemble can be almost endless.
For the rhythm section, piano and/or guitar, bass, and drums are the foundation. It can be expanded with additional instruments such as accordion, vibes, percussion, electronics, cello, etc.
Along with flexible instrumentation, I decided that it would be more practical to use 5 or 6 wind instruments than a larger number for a horn section. 5-horn jazz ensembles are fairly common. I have several scores for 5 horns; however, I think of 6 horns as being the optimal number for my writing. My 6-horn scores are written for a 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 are blended, juxtaposed, crossed, and voiced in creative ways horizontally and vertically. This creates an ensemble sound that is based upon an interplay of colors 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 the defining features of a conventional big band: harmonized saxophone, trumpet, and trombone sections with each player blending his individual sound into the 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, it occurred to me that my scores can also be played by larger ensembles by having 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 big bands to use my scores. (See A Big Band Misconception for more about this idea.)
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 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.
In this new phase of my music jazz, roots music, tango, blues, contemporary classical, and other genres became intertwined in unusual ways in my writing along with having expanded harmonic colors, a quirky humor in much of my work, and a fluid, musically expressive approach to time. 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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