This blog is (I hope) about music as a central component of life as seen through the perspective of a musician, percussionist, and seeker of spiritual wisdom .
I’ve been a student of rhythm ever since I can remember. (although I didn’t learn how to clap in time to music until I was five years old). My early musical education came from my family and was mostly due to absorption through osmosis.
Raised by a musician, I was exposed to many forms of western music — Folk, R&B, jazz, rock, symphonic music (mostly movie soundtracks), and whatever was happening in the rehearsal studio.
It wasn’t assumed that I would be a musician myself. I didn’t learn an instrument as a child. I just learned how to listen. I remember sitting on the couch as my dad played records by Stanley Clark, or Earth Wind and Fire, or Yes, or Stevie Wonder. He would get so excited about something in the music that he would get up and drop the needle back in order to replay a particularly tasty moment — exclaiming about this bass line, or that drum fill, or an especially expressive vocal moment. His enthusiasm was infectious and I learned to love these moments – both as bonding time and as an opportunity to listen to music.
I’ve always been a percussionist though. I remember my dad playing kitchen accoutrements like a drumset — a fork became a drum stick, a coffee cup – a ride cymbal; a place mat became the snare. I’ve been doing the same thing ever since I can remember. The washer and dryer produced interesting sounds. A stainless steel sink had interesting sustain that you could mute to control note length and different pitches on different sides. In the absence of some object, my legs or chest served just as well (I remember being so enthused as a seventeen-year-old, that I had bruises for two days).
In the post “Sound and Silence” I talk about my teenage entry into music as a life path. Shortly thereafter I got my first set of bongos, which I tied to a milk crate and played on my first gig. I then moved on to congas and had my first studio session. In the meantime (because of the instruments I had), I started paying particular attention to the music of Santana. At the age of 19 I made the conscious decision to commit my self to the study of music as a central aspect of my life. Ambitious, I remember trying to learn the conga part for “Race with Devil on Spanish Highway” on Al Di Meola’s “Elegant Gypsy” album. I learned a lot in the process.
In “Sound and Silence” I talk about my introduction to music as a spiritual path as part of a community centered around Bloomington, Indiana. What follows is several years of intense musical study, including West African, Indian classical, Afro Cuban, and Middle Eastern traditions. This is when the theory of rhythm, as well as the practice of music as a means of personal development came into focus. I connected with many other musicians at the time, formed a avant garde world fusion ensemble called “Rhythm Quest”. The ensemble performed and taught workshops in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, and New York. During that time, I was also collaborating with jazz musicians Kyle Quass, and Cory Smythe, world Vocal ensemble Vida, and developing music for modern dance performances.
When Rhythm Quest broke up in 1998, I began writing music for large scale percussion ensembles. What followed was a deeper inquiry into the aesthetics of sophisticated world percussion music and a collection of five compositions (to be released someday – It’s ambitious music)
Today, I live in Sarasota, Fl. I have built a studio and recorded and produced collaborations with various musicians. My primary collaborator is Stephanie Heidemann (of Vida, mentioned above). I continue to study music as a life path and work to refine myself as an instrument of creativity and inspiration. My intention with this blog is to share some of what I have learned in this process, in the hopes that it may provide food for thought, meditation, and musical and personal development.