Paul Neufeld     career highlights

February 3, 2007
Rhythm & Truth Gospel. YFC in Belleville, Ontario. Wonderful concert supporting Youth Unlimited. R&T featuring Lester McLean on vocals /sax, Quisha Wint, vocals, Colin Campbell, guitar/vocals, Doan Pham, drums, Kevin Turcotte, trumpet, Sean O’Connor, saxes, Steve Donald, trombone and PN on organ and sousaphone. Huge snowstorm that night, but really great concert.

December 10, 2006
Rhythm & Truth Gospel Christmas. Yorkview Church in Newmarket, Ontario. Fundraiser for homeless shelter, Inn From The Cold. Lester McLean, vocal/sax; Scott Suttie, trombone; Colin Campbell, guitar/vocals; Doan Pham, drums, and me on organ and keys.

August 24/25, 2006
NOJO plus Phatt Al at The Rex in Toronto. Two nights with my favourite freestyling rapper and my big band. Absolutely killing. Phatt Al is a murderer, as the old reggae guys would say.

February 24, 2006
Played sousaphone on a Bruce Cockburn record, with Scott Suttie on euphonium and David Buchbinder and Kevin Turcotte on alto horns. Really fun and the realization of a dream as I’ve been a Cockburn nut since I was a kid. Got hooked that summer my sister Christine came home from university with Tokyo constantly singing in her head. However, my new goal is to be audible on a Bruce Cockburn. I figure I’m the only guy in the world who could pick out the sousaphone part on the tune Mystery from the album Life Short Call Now. I’m down there with the swirling basses, cellos, electric bass. Go ahead and transcribe my part!

February 11, 2006
New Orleans, LA. Played sousaphone (borrowed down there from Tim Stambough – thanks Tim!) with a show the CBC put on in support of musicians in post-Katrina NOLA. It was a real privilege to meet and play with people like Johnny Vidocavich, Mark Mullins, Brian Coogan. Got to play with Colin Linden, the Mighty Popo, Jane Bunnett, Rich Underhill, The Soul Rebels. I got hooked into a band needing a sousaphone player, completely on the spur of the moment – they were marching by and needed a guy. Thanks to Sidney Wyche for including me in the Vieux Carre parade. I’ll never forget that experience.
Also an anecdote amongst a hundred that I could include from those four days - across the street from the House Of Blues where we are playing is the coolest record store in Louisiana, the Louisiana Music Factory, populated by the hippest High Fidelity types in the world, and I spy behind the counter a bunch of caps that say SousaFunk on them, and being a purveyor of funky music on sousaphones I figure that is the hat for me and I ask the guy behind the counter how much for the hats and he says "You don't want the hat, they're overpriced and not very good" and I say "no, I play the sousaphone and I play funky music, I think I need the hat" and he says "I recommend you give up the horn and not buy the fucking hat" and I say "OK buddy, I'll walk around the store and think about it", by this time he is my favourite guy in the world, so I walk around for half an hour and come back with my purchases and say "I've thought about it and I think I need to see the hats" and he says "whatever" and gets a few down and then says "you want it in badass black, pussy blue, or sissy orange" and then both he and I look at my bright orange shirt and I say "I'll take the sissy orange, please" and then he relieves me of $16 which seems like a great bargain for a hat I like and a story that good.

December 18, 2005
Rhythm & Truth Gospel Christmas. Yorkview Church in Newmarket, Ontario. Fundraiser for homeless shelter, Inn From The Cold. Lester McLean, vocal/sax; Colin Campbell, guitar/vocals; Doan Pham, drums, and me on organ and keys.
The first of the gospel Christmas shows and the time when the gospel R&T seems to really get going.

December 2, 2005
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Toronto. A beautiful small venue and me on piano, Laura Lynn on vocals, and Rob Clutton on bass. We presented a program of Christmas music with a quiet, contemplative chamber feel that left us feeling like it was a magic night. One of those nights, like these ones in this list, which you can’t quite describe.

June 27, 2005
The Rivethead at the Bier Mkt in Toronto as part of the jazz festival. Roberto Occhipinti on bass and Paul Antonio on drums. Michael O. and I had picked away at The Rivethead idea for some time but this really badly attended gig seemed to be a night where some of the ideas for a direction coalesced. A year later we record something! Fast moving, we ain’t. A year after that it might come out…

June 3, 2005
A jobbing gig? Yes, but no ordinary jobbing gig. First of all it is GrooveYard, which is where I do 90% of my jobbing but it is worth mentioning, once in a while, how darn good and fun that band is. To listen and dance to and to be in. But this night we played a wedding, for the wonderful Sophocles family, in Boston. That is the only time I’ve ever got on a plane to do a wedding gig and it sure stands out as a jobbing highlight. Besides the fact that any GrooveYard hang is a good hang, this was an especially good hang. Loved the trad Greek band that played whenever we weren’t playing – hats off to George Makredes of Boston.
The Sophocles family is split between Toronto and Boston, so some of the Boston crowd had seen GrooveYard at Toronto weddings of family members and Alexandra Sophocles, bless her heart, decided that we were the best band for her wedding too! A wonderful time was had by all.

May 20, 2005
NOJO with strings and Phatt Al at the Distillery Jazz Festival in Toronto. Rapping and string section. It was nice.

May 6/7, 2005
NOJO in The Netherlands. We went over as part of a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Canadian liberation of Holland. An amazing experience and I learned so much that I was ashamed I never knew before about the role of Canada in that liberation and just what the Dutch people were going through at the time. Shocking.

April 2005
NOJO Western Canada tour. Great fun playing Winnipeg, Gretna, Saskatoon, tons of places in BC, and more. We turned off Alexis Baro’s trumpet mic after the first night and never turned it on again. That guy can take your head clean off! Andy Ballantyne was tearing it up too, if I recall. Romberg? Forget about it. You missed it unless you didn’t.

April 2, 2005
Occhipinti and I lose another Juno in Winnipeg. We are great at that. Five kicks at the can so far and only one win! You can, of course, take two perspectives on that. We’re five for five on the NOJO records. The difference this time is we spent our own money flying to Winnipeg.

February 2005
NOJO Northeastern USA Tour. First time to the USA, except for some gigs in Buffalo over the years. Gigs ran from amazing to utterly empty, as you might expect for a first kick at the can. In Boston, Ryles club had just changed management, there was NO promotion and no one except five people from Rounder Records made an appearance. Nine guys in the band, eh? Bad enough to even be funny at the time. However – Castleton University in Vermont? Amazing. The Charleston Jazz Series in West Virginia? Completely great. A wonderful and very well informed, appreciative audience. Rocking. Check out the “Steve Gets Carded” video from that same night - http://www.nojomusic.com/gallery.html

January 5-9, 2005
PN Quartet at The Top O’ The Senator. The club is gone now, which is sad. The Walk Together band had a wonderful week there in early January, with full houses. The music was terrific fun to make with Rob Clutton (bass), Muhtadi, (congas) and Jesse Baird (drums).

December 19, 2004
PN Trio in London, Ontario at Northpark Church. There were whiteouts on the highway and a traffic stoppage that almost forced us to cancel the whole thing. The band that was going to play our intermission had to play as the warm-up act, we were so late. We arrived frantic and freaked (me anyway) and proceeded to play a calm, introspective concert of great beauty. Jesse and Rob were unbelievable. A night you couldn’t have predicted.

September 22-25, 2004
NOJO with Sam Rivers
Toronto and Montreal.

May 23, 2004
NOJO + Strings
Concert at Distillery Jazz Festival in Toronto. The NOJO9 plus a 12-piece string section. Our second kick at the NOJO Strings concept and a great thrill.

December 2003
NOJO9 + Don Byron in Holland
A complete whirlwind of playing in Tilburg and Amsterdam. We played a cool club called Paradox in Tilburg and had a wacky Dutch comedian open up for us. It was a bit David Lynch-y, truth be known, but the gig was great. First time I ever heard Don Byron play tenor sax. In Amsterdam we were the guests of the Willem Breuker Kollektief and played a lovely theatre called the Werkteater. The characters in the WBK were really nice to us, and it was a great show. The green room after the gig may have been the funniest place to be on the planet on that evening. Holland, between Christmas and New Year’s, sleep deprivation, just finished our job….you know how that goes.

October 26, 2006
GrooveYard plays for Toronto Raptors party
Fun gig and all, but it was pretty clear that Antonio Davis was on his way off the team. He was standing all by himself, sullenly meeting his professional obligations. Was very pleasant when I shook his hand though. I get a bit standoffish when I’m being moved from one multi-million dollar contract to another, so I understood. We did a few years of this job.

October 25, 2003
NOJO9 + Strings
The first concert of the string music. St-George-The-Martyr/Music Gallery production. I premiered the piece “St. George” of course. It was a magical night. Not a big crowd but we all walked out feeling like something special had happened.

September 25, 2003
PN Quartet
Walk Together launch party at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Toronto. Rob Clutton on bass, Jesse Baird on drums and Muhtadi on congas.

August 8, 2003
PN Trio, Oakville Jazz Festival
Electric version of the band, which is relevant because we were powered by a generator that kept cutting in and out, leading to trading with the drums at the most unexpected moments. It turned out really cool. Everyone should try it sometime.

June/July 2003
NOJO + Sam Rivers, Canada Tour
We went out West and down East with Sam Rivers and recorded the tracks for City Of Neighbourhoods at Sonic Temple when we were in Halifax. Sam is a singular figure in the history of African-American music and just a great hang. He was 79 when we were on the road with him and was tireless and much less whiney than the rest of us. You can have a conversation with Sam that you can’t have with anyone on the planet – what was it like in Chaka Khan’s band, what was it like in Miles’ band, with Billie Holiday, with T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Witherspoon, and on and on and on it goes. He has been a respected professional musician since his teens and his own groundbreaking records start showing up in the 60s when he was already a very experienced sideman. Fuchsia Swing Song is his debut as a leader (as far as I know) and he was 40. He’s done so much influential recording and playing between then and now and is turning it out at a great rate right now in his 80s. A completely inspiring musician and very enjoyable conversationalist.

May 18, 2003
NOJO + Phil Nimmons, The Rex in Toronto

May 11, 2003
NOJO + David Mott, The Rex in Toronto

December 23, 2002
HOHO NOJO at The Rex

December 20, 2002
PN Group, TSN Christmas Special
Played funkified Christmas tunes live on TV for the annual TSN Christmas hockey broadcast. We did this a few times over as many years and it was pretty kooky fun. One year I had my old friend Paul Brundtland in from Tokyo on vocals and congas and another I had Paul Reddick on vocals/harmonica. Our synth-pop version of Carol Of The Bells was pretty darn good! Mark Kelso on drums, Collin Barrett on bass.

October 24, 2002
Seducer’s Diary, MacLaren Arts Centre, Barrie, Ontario
Jesse Baird on drums and me on electronics and keys. The only rule was “no stopping” – we improvised for a couple of hours at this lovely art gallery. I loved it and would do it all the time if Jesse weren’t so furiously in demand that he is never around Toronto! Or he is off farming somewhere. Beautiful guy, great musician.

July 25, 2002
NOJO at Ottawa International Jazz Festival
This concert was supposed to be NOJO plus Ray Anderson, brilliant trombonist from the USA, one of my all-time fave musicians and friend. Sadly his wife Jackie, poet and dancer, lost her battle with cancer just days before. We had a beautiful time with the crowd in Ottawa that day as we all sent our thoughts and prayers to the Anderson family. The audience all chipped in as we passed the hat (it was a very big outdoor crowd) for Ray and the Ottawa Jazz folks contributed as well. Heartwarming.

May 2002
NOJO Canadian tour
Massive, by our standards, cross-Canada tour in support of Highwire.

November 12, 2001
Isabel Neufeld is born to Ilona and Paul! Not a career highlight, but how can I avoid mentioning it? Kids are better than careers in this house anyway.

September 10, 11, 12, 2001
NOJO in studio recording Highwire
Famous date in that list. We were recording with Don Byron on clarinets, Hugh Marsh on electric violin, and the NOJO16 at Phase One in Toronto. Day one went well and Don was up from NYC and we were all having a good time. On the morning of day two, the fateful 11th, we were expecting Ray Anderson in from NYC as well. It was Ray himself who called me from the roadside in Long Island, on his way to the airport, to tell me the news about the smoke flying out of Manhattan. He was on a hill that allowed him a vantage on the scene and it was during this phone call that the second plane hit, while I watched on TV and he stood by his car. An unbelievable moment.
I went to the studio and met up with everyone in the band. Don was distracted by making lots of phone calls and assuring himself that all was well with friends and family. As a life-long New Yorker he has a lot of connections to check on and, as you can imagine, much worry.
After talking and talking and talking, we decided we should get back to work. We recorded some good material that day but none of us can go back and listen to it without thinking about the circumstances. Michael and I wrote about it more in the liner notes to the CD.

September 13-16, 2002
Rhythm & Truth, Fredericton Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival
I put this one out of order because it relates to the 9/11/01 story. It was very strange flying out of Toronto that day as you can imagine. Security wasn’t exactly high so much as odd. Everyone was still dazed I think. Anyway, half the band couldn’t make the gigs because of security issues at the airport and very few planes flying, and we cobbled together an outfit based on who was around at the festival. Turned out pretty well, but such an atmosphere at that time! The musicians and audiences alike were elsewhere in their thoughts and yet all together in a bonded experience.

August 18, 19, 2001
NOJO + Sam Rivers
Hal Hill presented NOJO with Sam, first time ever, at the Markham Jazz Festival which allowed us to then book two nights at the Top O’ The Senator in Toronto. The line-ups were well into the street and the nights were unbelievable. Michael and I have always been grateful to Hal for getting the ball rolling on that one.

July 1995 to July 2001
Rhythm & Truth at the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
I spent a week in Montreal every July in those years with different versions of Rhythm & Truth. It began as Ilona and I were driving back from our honeymoon in Charlevois, Quebec. We ended our honeymoon with a week of gigs supporting my first CD – Daddy Long Legs. The FIJM put us up in an extra nice suite, knowing our circumstances. Very nice! They never did that in the years when I roomed with the likes of Paul Reddick or Steve Donald, I tells you what. There are so many memories of those gigs and times in Montreal, I really don’t know where to begin. For now then, I won’t.

June 24, 25, 2001
Ray Anderson with the PN Trio, Toronto Jazz Festival
We had played the day before as NOJO + Ray and it was great BUT, the real highlight for me was small band with Ray for two nights. What an experience. I still think back to it when I’m feeling stale. Ray will let you know everything that is great about real jazz music. From Jelly Roll to Professor Longhair to Albert Ayler and everywhere else in a completely unified groove. Rob Clutton, my old compatriot, on bass and Anthony Michelli on drums.

March 29, 2001
PN Trio, San Fillipo fundraiser
Our friends Elizabeth and Randall Linton have a daughter named Elisa who has a terrible disease. Check out this for more information on them and San Fillipo Syndrome - http://www.alifeforelisa.org
While I was doing this gig in support of these good people, Ilona and I had decided we’d make a donation by way of something in the silent auction. So she was hunting around while I played and found an abstract painting that she loved. No one had bid on it so she went in with the minimum and when I was on break I agreed that we should go for it. It was large and orange and apparently we were the only ones who liked it because that minimum bid never got challenged. We took it home for $150 not knowing anything about it except that we liked it! Did a little research after our purchase and discovered it was by a fellow named Ray Mead who was member of the Painters Eleven in Toronto in the 1950s. http://www.painters11.com/biographies/Ray%20Mead.html Turns out that painting is worth a lot more than $150. That is one of those things that sometimes happens to other people, you know. Never to you though, just to other people. We love the painting still, it is called Tidal Orange.

October 21, 2000
Maple Blues presents PN’s Jazz/Blues Connection
The Toronto Blues Society hired me to put on a show showing the connections between jazz and blues – not a big stretch by my standards! But maybe for some. I had a great time doing it with an expanded version of Rhythm & Truth. We added Molly Johnson, Jackie Richardson, on vocals to Paul Reddick from R&T and Rob Clutton on bass and did a big mix of music that showed connections between the two worlds. Really great night. I wrote an article for their magazine for it as well. http://www.torontobluessociety.com/0010cov_jazzblues.htm

June 29 to July 3, 2000
NOJO Cross Canada
Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver in four days. The funny memory for me is that Ilona and Madeleine (then 2 going on 3) and I moved out of our house at Bayview and Steeles on June 28, I went on the road June 29, they checked into a hotel for a few days until we took possession of our house in Aurora on July 4, and I came back on the 3rd. What a crazy week! In a couple of hotels while on the road I had to fill in a form with my home address and I could honestly write the hotel’s address. My little family was adrift and I was hanging with the band.

April 15, 2000
Rhythm & Truth opening for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Comfort Zone, Toronto
A great thrill for me, as the Dirty Dozen were the reason I took up the sousaphone at age 25. They mopped the floor with us and were so nice about it!

January 2000
NOJO + Don Byron, Italy, Umbria Jazz
The day after New Year’s Day of the new millennium. The day after we were all a little worried the planes would be dropping out of the sky, NOJO and Don Byron flew to the Umbria Jazz Festival in Orvieto, Italy. We had an unbelievable time; I still think about it. Usually at meal times. We got wonderful press coverage, a nice thing on RAI Uno about us. We did a show where Cecil Taylor went on before us. Yowza. Then, it was cheaper to stay and hang in Rome for a few days than fly back mid-week, so we did. A NOJO16 joint vacation. Too much fun and the greatest food on the planet.

October 1999
NOJO in Northern Ontario
We did a few gigs up north. Started in Sudbury and ended up in Kapuskasing, about 12 hours north of Toronto. We had a fabulous time in the Kap. It is fondly remembered by everyone in the band who was there. The folks there treated us so well! The night at the Legion Hall sitting in with the rock and roll band, the tour of the pulp mill, the little lecture thing Michael and I did for young folks, the concert at the really nice hall. Does that sound like I’m goofing? No way, it was great.

March 1999
NOJO + Ray Anderson
The first time with Mr. Anderson. We did two shows, London, Ontario and Toronto. Huge blizzards for both shows and yet, great turnouts. Get this - Ray Anderson, hero of mine, while I’m cleaning up the CD sales in London is outside clearing the ice off my car. The first indication that this was the kind of guy you can work with! Wonderful fella Ray is.

February 6, 1999
The Paulist Brothers, Sir Sam’s Inn, Haliberton, Ontario
I almost forgot about the Paulist Brothers! For years, Paul Reddick on vocals/harmonica, Paul Brundtland on drums/vocals, and me on piano, did gigs in little pubs and sports bars playing old time barrelhouse blues. We did a ton of gigs for about three years. Then we made a demo and it was all over. Then Paul B., Peebs to us in the band, moved to Tokyo. We named ourselves after the Catholic Order The Paulist Fathers. We used to have to regularly produce ID to prove we were all called by the same name. Like we were the Ramones. Playing blues in pubs.

September 25, 26, 1998
NOJO + Joe Lovano, Toronto and Buffalo

July 31, 1998
Madeleine Marika Kiss Neufeld enters the world!

June 7, 1998
Hu-Tsa-Tsa, Gypsy Co-Op, Toronto
For a couple of years I played tuba in Jonno Lightstone’s klezmer band. We played a lot at the Free Times Café for wonderful Sunday bruches called, if I recall it correctly, “Bella, Did Ya Eat?”. This gig was a wedding, I think! The old daytimers are helping less as we go further back in the memory.

1998
Overall, the old daytimer leads me to believe there was a lot of blues and klezmer played by me that year. Also, NOJO with Bryon at Harbourfront and a few cool little Rhythm & Truth things, including the FIJM.

1997
R&T at the Montreal Jazz Festival, lots of blues with the Paulist Brothers, and klezmer tuba with Hu-Tsa-Tsa. NOJO at the Art Gallery of Ontario was a standout. Had a Juno nomination for FireWater. Did a really fun week at The Top ‘O The Senator in Toronto with my small group at the time which was drums, percussion, two double bassists, violin and me. That was a great band, as I look back on it.

1996
Again, lots of blues with the Paulists. I notice the 2nd annual HOHO NOJO was held at the Mockingbird (now defunct), the last before we ensconced at the Rex for all eternity. I also did some gigs as a “lounge” trio promoting a line of cds on the EMI label – funny. NOJO played at the Bamboo; I miss the Bamboo. Played the Montreal Bistro with my sextet. Rhythm & Truth at the Ottawa Jazz Fest. Michael Occhipinti gets married this year and I threw him a stag. We made him wear a mouse mascot costume the whole night as we went drinking. That mouse could really hold his liquor, we were all disappointed to learn. NOJO at the Hillebrand Jazz Festival. R&T at the FIJM. NOJO wins a Juno! R&T in Brandon, Manitoba. Did some playing with two bands of friends that I remember enjoying a lot – Steve Donald’s Jellystone, and the Paul Brundtland Project.

1995
The year Ilona and I got married! June 17 to be exact. Lots of R&T this year. Our first week at the FIJM, a gig at the Ottawa National Library, lots of things in Toronto. R&T didn’t have a dedicated vocalist back then, we were a six-piece. It was a fun version of the band though, and Daniel Barnes on drums did step up to sing sometimes. NOJO did months and months of Saturday afternoons at The Rex getting ready to record out first cd. Right after it came out we went into the studio to make FireWater. A productive year for NOJO. NOJO also did the only gig ever without me – June 27. I was on honeymoon. I made my first two records in the months leading up to the wedding. I probably would have been useless as a help to Ilona anyway, but this gave me an excuse to hang it on. 1995 had lots of blues with The Paulists.

1994
The first HOHO NOJO at the Rex. R&T open for the Sidemen at the Horseshoe in Toronto and Paul Reddick and I get reacquainted after meeting once many years earlier. We begin a musical relationship that still continues and he becomes the first singer for R&T. Then he started touring too much and I sacked him and started using Paul Brundtland, then he moved to Tokyo and I got Lester McLean! That is working out great. NOJO plays at The Pilot Tavern in Toronto in 1994. Our first gig ever was there on March 15. We got a nice bit of press in the Globe & Mail after and it was a real shot in the arm. I’m grateful to Mark Miller for being supportive of us on that very first night. It was just what Michael and I needed to encourage us in the endeavor. 1994 had a bunch of gigs for R&T that I’m not sure how I got, as we had no disc yet. I think I had a cassette demo of some Dirty Dozen Brass Band covers that we did. I played in the band of a singer/songwriter from Brazil named Satranga and we did some funny gigs, especially the one in Montreal at Foufounes Electric where he had members of Cirque de Soleil doing trapeze over our heads. Satranga remains the only bandleader that ever took me and the band shopping for outfits. I also played solo piano pretty regularly at Thumpers in Parkdale. I met a lot of characters.

1993
Did solo piano at Thumpers and at Capriccio’s. Capriccio’s was booked by my friend, trombonist Steve Donald, that’s how I met him, hassling him on the phone for gigs. Capriccio’s is now the Orbit Room but at the time they had a grand piano and it was a nice place to play. I did some duo gigs there and elsewhere with my future sister-in-law Katalin Kiss on vocals. 1993 saw infrequent NOJO rehearsals as Michael and I wrote our first music for the band. We’d call a rehearsal and produce two or three more charts and that is how we grew the repertoire and figured out who the best guys were for the band. Did some rehearsing in my parent’s basement in Etobicoke. I played as a busker at Lollapalooza! Me on tuba (I really stunk at that in 1993, I had only just started) and Mike Smith on trombone. We were official buskers, and I don’t know how that happened. The best thing was that Anthony from Fishbone (of whom I was a big fan) marched up to us and said we “had it going on.” That was still a relatively cool thing to say in 1993 and it made my week at the time. Did a bunch of gigs this year and 1994 as Soul Station, which was Paul Brundtland on vocals/drums, Michael O. on guitar and me on keys. A precursor to Grooveyard.

1992
Played keys with Satranga. Played typewriter at Cagewake for John Cage. I did my first gigs as a bandleader running my own quartet, played a place called No Jacket Required and also C’est What in Toronto. Played blues with an old singer, now passed, named Bob Robinson. I particularly remember playing in Fenlon Falls with Bob, and I think Ken Harper on drums, and staying in his trailer. He smoked so much, the addiction would wake him up every couple of hours all through the night! Not the best nights of sleep I ever got. Did duo gigs with Katalin Kiss in 1992. I finished York University’s music BFA in 1992 and that should count for something.

1988 to 1992
York University in Toronto. It is all a blur pretty much. Michael O. and I lead our first band together, Five Nude Men, doing my first original compositions with a band. Michael had more experience than I on that front, coming from a musical family and having lots of high school rock band experience that I didn’t. I learned a lot from him then, and still do actually. We also played in differently named versions of a funk band (Mikhail Gorbachev is the only one I remember right now because Doug Cameron sang everything in a Russian accent, including DMSR by Prince. Remember? That was awesome) that was my first experience in anything like that. I also recall playing in Simon somebody’s fusion band, a job I was not well prepared for but I fought my way through and got better. Played in Brass Traxx, a calypso outfit. Did my one and only cruise ship gig. Learned about “jobbing”. Studied with James Tenney and David Mott and Casey Sokol, all influential folks. I’ve always said that if David Mott had not been the one who auditioned me to get into York, I wouldn’t have gotten in. He saw through the bad playing to the potentially interesting musician underneath. It has probably been a terrible disappointment for him, but I’m still grateful. I came to music school with nearly zero experience with musicians and very weak skills. I left with much more experience.

High School
Hardly worth mentioning! I played a bit of punk guitar and fooled around on piano. Pond Scum was a band we had that was lots of fun and did a couple of friend’s parties. Jon Lee and I would spend quite a bit of time making sounds on synthesizers. I still do that, and Jon got me started. He had a Jupiter 6, which rocked. I bought a Korg DSS1 that was a very big deal for me. I did start studying jazz piano with Brian Rudolf towards the end of my high school career and that was very good. I sure was a big music hound though. Modern orchestral music, pre-war blues, avant-rock, free jazz, reggae, whatever wasn’t on the radio I was consuming in a very intense fashion. Pink Floyd in great quantities also. That is what turned me into a musician, not the playing experience or the feeling that I was good at it, but just coming at it from a fan’s perspective and wanting to be involved. Things have worked out great on that front!

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