Born and raised in Los Angeles, I feel very fortunate to have known what I wanted to be when I grew up - and that was to be a musician. I really wanted to play drums (which I did for 10 years), but my mother insisted that I learn the piano first - good call, Mom! I started taking lessons at age 7. When I was 10, I got my first drum set, Ludwig, blue oyster pearl. I was very influenced by the Beatles and I was just trying to copy Ringo. I started taking drum lessons at that time, not drumset lessons but classical percussion - timpani, mallets, multiple-toms. I was pretty good at that but I wanted to take drumset lessons. Somehow that didn't materialize. Oh well. I feel SO lucky to have grown up in the 60's because back then, the radio stations played EVERYTHING. There wasn't so much division in the genres of music, so you would hear Stevie Wonder , The Carpenters, then the Kinks and Otis Redding all on the same station. It was how things were and I loved all of it.
The music that really turned my head around and really made me focus on piano was jazz. I think I was around 13 when I first heard the sound of jazz on the radio. The harmony, the instrumentation, the freedom in the playing and the mind-blowing solos - that was it for me! That's what I wanted to sound like and that's what I wanted to play. The classical lessons I had been taking all those years suddenly seemed so restrictive and forced. I wanted to to learn to play jazz and at 17, I stopped taking classical lessons. After having seen his business card posted on the message board at Professional Drum Shop in Hollywood, I started taking jazz piano lessons from Sarah Vaughn's musical director (at one time) and bass player, the legendary HERB MICKMAN https://www.afm47.org/press/final-note-herb-mickman/. As it turned out, Herb was also an incredible pianist and jazz theory maven. He pretty much taught me everything I know, or at least, much of what I play is based on things he taught me. I took lessons for about 3 years with him. The harmony he presented to me was unlike anything I had ever learned and even though I told him at the time that I understood, I really didn't but I wanted him to keep writing down the 'rules' (I use that term loosely) of jazz. I always say that it took me a good 5 years where the harmonic concepts he imparted to me finally started to make sense.
My goal was always to be in a band and even though I went for a couple of years to Los Angeles City College to study college level theory and harmony - and it definitely had it's benefits - my goal to be in a band never waivered, even when one of my professors recommended me for a music scholarship to Cal State Northridge. I wanted to be in a band and in 1975 I got my chance. There used to be an organization, more like a storefront, called the Musician's Contact Service in Hollywood. Bands looking for musicians would fill out these index cards and musicians looking for a gig would also fill out index cards and I would go in periodically and peruse the 'help-wanted' cards. One time I went there and found a card for a band looking for a keyboard player. I called about the gig, went and auditioned and got the gig. That band was the now renown band from East Los Angeles, TIERRA https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tierra_(band)&gettingStartedReturn=true. I played with Tierra for about 4 years. I then played with the legendary Gypsy jazz guitarist, GABOR SZABO https:// www.allmusic.com /artist/gabor-szabo-mn0000184187/biography for about two and a half years and also played on his last recorded album, Femme Fatale, before he passed away on my birthday, February 26, at age 45 in 1982.
Throughout the 80's I played in lot of cover bands and it was also during this time that I really caught the music recording bug. The technology had progressed to where multi-track recording was possible on an affordable level and this was when I was first able to put my musical ideas on tape. It was a very fertile time for my creative energy. I felt that my musical ideas could finally be realized. I suppose I should mention that was I was recording was not really jazz, per se, because although there was definitely some jazz harmony in there, there was always a 4/4 groove happening underneath. I love the jazz harmony but I love the groove just as much. With more recording came more refinement, a tighter arrangement of parts and trial and error production techniques, as I've had no formal training in this recording world. I was also hired during this time by a demo house at the time (West Hollywood Demo) to produce demos for their clients. During the latter part of the 80's I also did a fair number of gigs with THE BUSBOYS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_BusBoys.
Enter the 90's. After mostly playing in cover bands, in 1991 I had the good fortune to do about a month's worth of gigs with CHAKA KHAN. Definitely one of the highlights of my career! In what would become the longest association with an artist I have had so far, in 1993 I began touring the world with the incredibly gifted, woefully underrated (at least in the US-she's a huge star in the rest of the world) vocalist RANDY CRAWFORD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Crawford who first came to prominence in 1979 with the song, 'Streetlife' from the album of the same name. That was an unbelievable 10 years and most of the photos in the gallery came from that period of time. I have to say it now because I hadn't said it yet, was that I had really bad performance anxiety stemming from my absolute terror of the end of the semester classical recitals at the USC Prep School of Music where, in front of all the parents and other students of my teacher, I would, without fail, stop in the middle of a piece because my mind just went blank even though I knew I knew the music. I consistently psyched myself out. It's why I quit taking classical lessons. I just couldn't go through the trauma of another failure. That anxiety was centered around me playing alone in front of people and the prospect of that scenario plagued me for many years. I mention that now because in playing with Randy, the were times where I had to play by myself and I knew that I would either succeed or fail in those moments. Having success felt like I gained new found confidence that I hadn't had before, so playing with her cured me of my performance anxiety (yay)!
In 1997, a Japanese company, Nippon Rediffusion Music, put up the financing for me to record an album of original material. I think they assumed I was Latino because they wanted music with a definite Latin tinge. Not really my musical/cultural background. Instead of doing the album myself, I called in an old friend of mine, ALFRED RUBALCAVA, the bass player who I played with and who initially called me to audition for the band Tierra. He is a great bassist and was well versed in latin rhythms, not to mention an accomplished songwriter having written songs with MICHAEL and DANNY SEMBELLO, ELLIS HALL, MARLO HENDERSON and GERARDO MEJIA. We called ourselves LATIN ON THE FLIPSIDE (LOTF now is what we'd like to be known by). This would be the first of three albums that we have done so far, with the other two being totally independent and self-produced. Previous to and during the recording of that album I had been also co-writing with several of the then up and coming adult contemporary artists, artists such as BONEY JAMES, RICK BRAUN and RICHARD ELLIOT. In 1997 the song 'Notorious' from Rick Braun's album 'BODY AND SOUL' was Song of the Year according to Radio & Records Magazine. I have also received two Gold Records for co-writing on two Boney James albums, 'SEDUCTION' and 'BODY LANGUAGE'. I continued to write with Boney up until about 2009. Also in 1998, I began playing gigs with the legendary GARY WRIGHT https://www.thedreamweaver.com/, the writer of that classic '70's song, "Dreamweaver". It was with Gary Wright that I learned that rock and roll is an ATTITUDE. Duh, but I never really gravitated towards rock because I always saw it as too simplistic and not harmonically challenging enough but playing with Gary allowed me to see, hear and feel it, for the first time, a different way. It was revelatory and that experience gave another dimension to my playing and for that I will be forever grateful. Thank you, Gary. Another pet project of mine was a collaboration with my cousin, CURT BISQUERA http://www.curtbisquera.com/, a world renown drummer who's played with a who's who of artists too numerous to mention. Google him. We called our project BISQUERA BROTHERS and it was more of a stream of consciousness kind of band. Although we had written some tunes together, our strength was just to start playing and interacting with each other. We had some amazing musicians in that band, high profile guys. We recorded an album in 2003. This was before social media and neither Curt or I had any interest in trying to promote it any more than sending out the record to people we knew. We were dismayed at the lack of response and as good as it was, just kind of withered on the vine although the album is still available on CDBaby. In 2007, with a good word from one of the stellar bass players that played on her albums, ALEX AL https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3649692/, I had the incredible fortune to audition for - and get - the gig playing piano for ANITA BAKER. I thought I died and gone to heaven. I played with her until 2012. From 2013-15 I re-connected with RANDY CRAWFORD, first subbing for the late, great Joe Sample, who, unfortunately passed away in 2014. and then being part of her group until the early part of 2015. Amazing musical life - I am truly blessed. In service to you, THE CREATOR.