Well the story for me begins in Lubbock Texas. I had the dubious honor of being basically raised in my father’s recording studio. Mom and Dad are both accomplished musicians. Dad got his start playing saxophone and writing horn charts for Norman Petty, the producer engineer mastermind behind Buddy Holly’s music. Petty gave dad a tape machine and some other recording equipment to help him get his own studio off the ground. Mom is an effortless singer and a brilliant songwriter. She was a child prodigy and a regular on local TV variety shows. It’s no surprise that my two siblings and I all grew up to be musicians as well.
Despite my growing up in the country music stronghold of Texas, it was jazz music that really inspired me to want to play. First it was saxophone. I started playing gigs and shows around town when I was 15. At 18 I bought an old Hammond organ off the want ads and a true obsession ensued. There was always something about the sound of the organ that just felt like it was my voice. Like it was a tool I could use to say something I needed to say.
The dream was always to go to New York and study jazz with the legends. But I had no money, I didn’t know how I could make it happen. My break came when Stephen Stills heard me play and invited me to join his touring group. Working for Stephen was like a finishing school in and of itself. After the first summer tour with Stills, I rented an apartment in Brooklyn sight unseen, packed up my stuff and left Lubbock.
I’ve spent the last eleven years here digging into the nyc music scene and enjoying the priceless opportunity to watch and learn from the masters themselves. I still study regularly with one of those masters and with his encouragement I began preparing to record this album about a year ago. I’ve always loved the old school groove of the jazz organ trio, always gravitated towards the Jimmy Smith style of bluesy gritty organ groove. But I've also tried to find a different path through the organ as well. A more cinematic side of the hammond. This record attempts to span some of that ground.
The songs range from ethereal layers of organ colors blending into cloudy soundscapes to the soulful In The Garden, which is an old gospel hymn my folks used to play when I was a kid. Radiohead’s moody ‘There, There’ is the lone cover song and the album wraps up with an original, The Calling, an anthemic chant featuring the brilliant vocals of rising young star Michelle Willis. Hopefully the sum of all this music forms an album of genre blurring “jazz” that honors the past and present while seeking the future.
I was very fortunate to have two of the most renowned musicians in the world join me to form the core trio of this album; the great Peter Bernstein on guitar and Jochen Rueckert on drums. I have enjoyed both of these musicians’ albums for many years and to find myself in the studio with these two veteran cats, cutting my music, well it was definitely one of those ‘pinch yourself’ kinda moments. All the music was tracked at Flux Studios in Manhattan on January 4th 2020.
This project has felt like the culmination of a lot of things. From my youth in Texas, to uprooting and moving to nyc, to touring the world with CSN. But it doesn’t feel like the end of a long journey but rather the beginning of a new, hopefully even longer journey. Certainly making this record has inspired me to keep making more albums and to find the next sound hiding somewhere down the road...