“Tesla Coil” is built and named for the resonant transformer circuit and how that can translate into musical energy.
Yes! Tesla is awesome to me. What a nut. I tried to capture his whole vibe, and a Tesla Coil firing off, in this solo piano tune.
I noticed that you “discovered” some of the basis for “Sinking Ship” after checking out a natural rock formation at Bryce Canyon National Park. Does nature play a role as an influence?
Absolutely! I love being outdoors and writing about nature-related themes.
And a final word on the subject, what are some of your musical influences?
(Dmitri) Shostakovich, (Claude) Debussy, (Maurice) Ravel, film scores (Bernard Hermmann is my favorite), Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Beach Boys, John Adams, Bill Evans, Mulgrew Miller, Maria Schneider...the list is long!
You’ve expressed admiration for the broad, expansive musical movements of the likes of Maria Schneider and Bob Brookmeyer. What draws you to working with larger ensembles?
It's a challenge! Starting to try some big band music now actually. Just like piano: practice as much as possible.
Yet there’s something to be said for the intimacy of small groups.
Absolutely. I love the jazz-piano-trio format. I intend to record with my trio next year. Maybe a standards record. Haven't done that yet. Still trying to learn them! There's too many good ones to choose from.
Can you tell us a little about the ensemble from Discoveries? How did you choose them?
I was really inspired by Herbie Hancock's 1968-69 records, The Prisoner and Speak Like a Child. He used a similar instrumentation on those albums (plus tenor sax). I've always wanted to write some music for bass clarinet, and this was the perfect record to try it on. The bass clarinet has such a beautiful tone and an amazing range. Brian Walsh is one of the top young guys playing it in L.A.
Alan Ferber (trombone) - what a talent. His own big band and nonet records are so inspiring to me, and I feel very lucky he was able to play on the record. Dontae Winslow (trumpet/flugelhorn) is one of the top cats not only on horn but as a producer and composer. He brought a real fire I was looking for from this chair.