June 21, 2011: “Waking Dreams” officially released on Between Worlds Music
When did you start playing?
I started playing piano and drums when I was 9 and 12, respectively, then gradually switched over to vibraphone and mallet percussion full-time by the age of 20.
How did improvisation become part of your musical experience?
Drums and percussion are improvisatory by nature, so I began at an early age. Composition and improvisation with tones (vibraphone, marimba, piano) began in high school. Studying with Jay Hoggard and Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan University and collaborating with other students there opened up my mind to entirely new ways to approach music and improvisation.
It’s hard to write only a short list. I’ve been influenced by a wide variety of experiences with people at particular places and times in my life. Studies and performances with people like Pheeroan AkLaff, Mr. Braxton, Mr. Hoggard, Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter were highly influential. But working with musicians closer to my age has been just as formative for me – Steve Lehman, Gerald Clayton, Jen Shyu, Ambrose Akinmusire, Noah Baerman and others. And, of course, listening… I couldn’t list everyone who influences me without taking up too much space, but specific influences for my new album also include Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson, Debussy, Toumani Diabate, Radiohead, Bach, Elliott Smith, Steve Reich, Aphex Twin… and so on…
What current projects/ensembles are you involved in?
My project Waking Dreams, Steve Lehman’s Octet, Jen Shyu’s Raging Waters Red Sands, Harris Eisenstadt‘s Canada Day, Sean Moran‘s Small Elephant, Bryan and the Aardvarks, two different collaborative projects with drummer/ngoni player Tim Keiper (band names soon to come), and a few other projects are currently germinating.
A bunch of albums that friends have put out recently! Finally getting a chance to catch up, and I am enjoying the music immensely:
Fabian Almazan‘s “Personalities”
Tomas Fujiwara and the Hook Up’s “Actionspeak”
Gerald Clayton’s “Bond”
Ambrose Akinmusire’s “When the Heart Emerges Glistening”
Mark Taylor‘s “At What Age”
Eivind Opsvick‘s “Overseas III”
Mr. Braxton creates this feeling that anything is possible, and puts forward a positive and creative energy that is so inspiring and infectious. I always want to create new music when I’m around him – especially music that knows no bounds of genre or style.
Chips and salsa!