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.