Who knows the script for their life? My life has been an amazing journey from a passion for and career in music to a passion for photography and a career that surprised me and then again back to music. I was born in San Francisco, my Dad, a well-known ex-boxer, owned a saloon and when we moved to a small resort town on the Russian River I began singing in my Dad’s bar. Frankie Laine, Nat “King” Cole were my hero’s. I had no idea of what “jazz” was, I just knew that I loved to sing.
In my teens we moved to Tacoma, WA where one day I discovered Clifford Brown and Max Roach, then the Jazz Messengers, Miles, Coltrane and the music vistas opened even wider. In Seattle, while going to college I met the wonderful Seattle musicians who would really become my mentors. Milt Jared, Bill Richardson, Bob Winn, “Jerry” (now Jerome) Gray, and Chuck Mahaffey. After graduation, I moved to San Francisco and in six months became a member of a vocal group called The Cables Of San Francisco. We were an eclectic bunch to say the least. At one point Jerry Gray was on the road with us as an arranger and pianist. In 1968 my wife, two children and I moved to Los Angeles.
I continued to sing in nightclubs and on the road, but realized that the music that I really loved was not in vogue and my passion for photography allowed me to find another niche.I had always been involved with music and photography, so it was not a far stretch to become a photographer/designer and eventually an Art Director at Motown Records when they moved to Los Angeles in 1972.
You can hear sound samples and purchase the CD at WorldJazzScene.com
From that time on, singing took a back seat and aside from a few “sit in’s” I didn’t sing for 20 years. In 1991, in my new 2000 sq. ft. studio in the Helm’s Bakery Complex, Ruth Price and I started the Jazz Bakery. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights we would hold concerts for audiences of up to 100 people.It was during this time that I began singing in earnest again. I sent Jerome Gray a tape of one of the first concerts. His reply was terse and to the point, but also encouraging, and he followed it up by coming down to Los Angeles and “woodshedding” me for three days.
In 1994 I left the studio and the Jazz Bakery and began singing in clubs around Los Angeles. In November of 1999, my friend Rick Clemente purchased a restaurant and invited me to help design and manage the Jazz Spot. We opened January 7th, 2000. With 5 4×5-foot blow-ups of jazz legends on the black walls and a 9-foot Yamaha concert grand on the stage, the Jazz Spot became one of the premier jazz venues with local and nationally known artists. I left the Jazz Spot in February, 2001, and now spend most of the year in Ketchum, Idaho and part of it in Los Angeles.
In Ketchum, I’m singing with some really fine musicians in the area, Paul Tillotson, Alan Pennay are great pianists, Jeff Rew a world class bassist, Josh Kelly drums. Recently a gig with Paul Tillotson piano, Mike Merritt and James Wormworth, the bass and drummer with the Conan O’Brien show. Since I don’t really have a “day job” anymore, I am free to explore my passions. I feel so grateful that I have been able to have a substantial career in both my passions, music and photography.
Life is good and amazing.