As I sit here in my hotel room in Italy I am excited about my new release “My Other Voice”

It releases this Monday August 16th..

I’ve been playing piano since my mom encouraged me to take lessons at age 8. Over the years, I moved onto to drums, percussion and eventually the vibraphone. But all along, it was all about the piano.

I teach at the piano, I write at the piano and I simply love to play the piano. With 10 fingers and an 8 octave range available, it gives me a different level and dimension of expression.

Making music with these incredible musicians helped me articulate my voice on piano. I present to you, and I hope you enjoy — “My Other Voice”.


I am psyched about the possibilities for this new band I play with “VENTURE” featuring Mike Clark, Felix Pastorius, Chase Baird, and yours truly. Our new CD titled “LIFE CYCLE” will release May 18 on Ropeadope Records. This is a power postbox/fusion band……Everyone is writing for the band. This band swings and funks really strong with purpose!VentureFlyer2017 copy

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This is a very important recording for me, as I am now one of I think 10 musicians in the world who have a duo recording with the great Kenny Barron. It is a very pristine and intimate setting recorded beautifully by the audiophile recording label Chesky Records. We performed some beautiful and sometimes obscure standards along with 1 original of mine, and 1 original of Kenny’s. It was a true privilege to address the music with this great jazz master!

Pick your copy up at the links below.

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My new book “Skills For The Poetic Language Of Jazz Improvisation” with School and Career Guidance is officially out and available at the below links. I feel really great about this book as it not only covers many great drills and elements for developing your jazz improvisation, but it digs deeply into how to obtain an actual career doing it. There is a lot of info about the many different facets of the music business. Things young players need to know about the different possibilities in the business. Guidance I wish I had when I was entering the business out of school. The do’s and don’ts are very important. Truthfully it is not enough to just master the language. It is equally important to learn about the many resources, and pieces of guidance to help you make a career of it. It is a bit pointless to learn all the music and then not be able to reach an audience with it. I highly recommend picking up this book to all intermediate, and advanced students. 

Here is the back cover:

The poetic language of jazz improvisation is a most fascinating art form. I personally have been challenged by this music for over 40 years. It is a life commitment to master these skills. It is the freedom of jazz that really attracted me to it. As opposed to classical music in which the notes are clearly defined. I loved the fact that I could drive the direction of the music with my ideas, and I was able to create the notes rather than just others written notes. I just needed to find a way to get stronger on the harmonic elements needed to play jazz well. It took many years of practice and listening to the masters to get this system to a point where I felt right about releasing it publicly. That time has come, and I feel very strongly that the effects of this system, and book will be very positive for your playing if you commit to the drills.

In this book you will find many drills on various different elements of harmonic content. These elements drilled the way I have prescribed will enlarge your palette of language, and enable your improvisation. After more than 30 years pondering a system for teaching the poetic language of jazz, I have finally compiled many of the elements and drills into a systematic approach to learning the language skills needed to improve ones interpretation of the music, and the negotiation of the chord changes. If you practice these drills religiously, your playing will take another shape, and have a very symmetrical and purposeful approach.

Once again as we did last year we played a benefit concert for La Guardia High School Of the Performing Arts in NYC of which I am a graduate. It is always a gunplay and hang as we all grew up together in New York City in the 70’s and now all these guys are top shelf musicians in their fields. We honored Gabriel Kosakoff this year, and last year we honored Justin DiCiccio. One of my first teachers. Many friends and colleagues like Arturo O’Farrill, Carlo De Rosa, Bob Franceschini, Marcus Miller, Ben Perowsky, Carolyn Leonhart, Eric Macpherson, Bryan Carrot, Chris Rogers, Justin DiCiccio, Jon Gordon, Clifton Anderson, Jeremy Manasia, and Buddy Williams.








It was truly a privilege to play the music in a duo format with the genius of Kenny Barron. A pianist I have looked up to for my entire life while on this quest to master the poetic language of jazz. Kenny was the pianist who forged into the post bop era with a vengeance, and I recall transcribing his solos as young as 17 with my buddy Kenny Kirkland while entering college. I have never been more comfortable than to run through 4 sets in 2 nights of standards and a few originals. Kenny Barron is a true master. It was like going to school!




I have had Miles High Records for over 10 years and have released 26 CD’s on the label. I have learned quite a lot about the record business and how and what needs be done to give an independent artist maximum exposure. My friend and colleague of many years Tim Hegarty asked me to produce and release a project for him. I hired the best and most swinging  rhythm section i could find in Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, and Carl Allen. I joined the band for 5 cuts on vibes. The selection of tunes for this project was vital. I needed to have tunes that would clearly establish the credibility factor for Tim Hegarty. Tim is a fine player that many do not know. When you establish credibility in jazz you must address the tradition of the music. Tim’s concept for the CD was a tribute to his teachers he studied with as well as the teachers we all study. Music chosen was written by some of the key saxophone and jazz masters. George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Monk, and Joe Henderson. Not hard to find great tunes that those guys wrote. Anyway it was a very inspiring session and following the session on the 1 hour ride home I began listening to the reference mixes from the days work. I was so inspired from playing all day with Kenny Barron that I arrived home at 11pm and began to transcribe his 2 choruses on the tune entitled “New Picture”. I just had to learn this solo. And as a result of my transcription Down Beat magazine has agreed to print the transcription in the their Oct 2014 issue in their “Woodshed section in the back of the magazine. I highly advise everyone to pick this CD up. Tim Hegarty “TRIBUTE”. It swings really deeply from the first downbeat!!


Wow, it is sure amazing how one can slip off the course of action. My original plan with this blog was to blog everything cool in the way of gigs or general life situations and issues that might be interesting to others. It feels like I fell off the train in the last year. I have been so darn busy I could not keep up with the blogging pace. I guess that is why artists hire internet promotion people. Anyway this blog will serve as a long catch up blog.

I suppose the first place to start is a new project that sort of just fell into place with my colleagues of nearly 40 years, Bob Franceschini. For those of you who don’t know Bob, he is one of the premier saxophonists on the scene. Much known for his work with Mike Stern, The Yellowjackets, Victor Wooton, Omar Hakim, and countless other greats.

Bob and I headed a band in Europe for a few weeks around 2 years ago with Lenny White on drums, and Martin Gjakonovski on bass. The tour was successful , and immediately another was planned. This time with Adam Nussbaum on drums for scheduling availability reasons. This tour the music surely took off to another place. At the end of the 10 gig tour we recorded in Teramo Italy. So we had a release of “Project THEM” a recording of the music we groomed on the tours. That band continues to tour a bit, and we are thinking about another CD project for the band. Tour #2 with Project THEM did a lot in Switzerland with the great pItalian pianist Antonio Faroa. Antonio is a fine musician and has the post bop McCoy/ Kenny Kirkland/ Joey Calderazzo language and style down. He plays his ass off.. I very much enjoy Antonio’s playing. Fantastic gigs in Basel and Lausanne CH.

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Short after the Project THEM Europe tour above I went to Israel for a week to perform with Russian/Israeli trumpeter Gregory Rivkin. We played a bunch of concerts and I planted seeds for a yearly residency in Israel. I will return there in late November 2014 to begin that teaching residency. Israel is a very beautiful place.

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After returning from Israel I returned to my teaching schedule at Juilliard , NJCU, New York Jazz Workshop, and privately. Sometimes I feel like a teaching machine. I do enjoy it though. It is a pleasure to share my system and experience as a musician with the younger and older generation. There is always something to learn. I am forever learning. Here is my office and shed.

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Lotta work goes on in here where I practice , transcribe, read, learn, manage Miles High Records etc. and my life!!

More posts coming. I am catching up!



          As I look back at my life and career in music I often site many of the landmark opportunities, concerts, shows, workshops, residencies, and positions that have brought me to where I am today as globally performing jazz artist and educator. So when I ponder all this I realize, and must give huge credit to my opera singing mother, and Juilliard graduate (Edith Gordon) who pushed me to go to Juilliard which paid great dividends for me. I was already playing jazz drums with many great young players like Kenny Kirkland and Rodney Jones by 17 years old, but going to the Juilliard School was the biggest and most important part of my development. Rubbing shoulders with the best classical orchestral players in the world created roundness in my musicianship and experience. My mother insisted I go to Juilliard when accepted. I did not really know the value. I just wanted to play jazz.

And Juilliard had no jazz department, and this was strange to me as many other schools did. So I entered The Juilliard School in 1975 and began studying as a percussion major with the greatest timpanist in the world named Saul Goodman. This guy was nearly 50 years the timpanist in the New York Philharmonic, and head of the percussion program at Juilliard. I began rubbing shoulders with these incredible musicians and conductors like Leonard Bernstein, Sir George, Solti, and Herbert Von Karajan. Weekly a different conductor would come and conduct the Juilliard Orchestra in addition to the main conductor Sixten Ehrling. In this period the school president and Dean were Peter Mennin, and Gideon Waldrop, and the school was run very well except for one problem. NO JAZZ!! There was no jazz program at all. In fact the genre was rather frowned upon. The only jazz players at Juilliard when I was there were Wynton Marsalis, Dan Block, Ken Hitchcock, another percussionist Rob Waring, and myself. We played as much as we could anyway, but it was not what it is today.

About 4 years ago I joined the faculty of The Juilliard Jazz program under direction of the legendary drummer/educator  Carl Allen and administrative director Dr. Laurie Carter. I remember when I first arrived how blown away I was by the fact that they finally had a jazz program to develop great young players. I am so impressed with what president Dr. Joseph Polisi has done at Juilliard. Obviously he has great vision, and understanding of all the music. For so many years the jazz door was closed at Juilliard. Even with passed students like Keith Jarrett, and Miles Davis they never opened the door to jazz education until Dr. Polisi’s incredible vision. As it stands now Juilliard accepts only 40 students at a time in the program, but these students are the absolute cream of the crop of young talent in jazz. The level is higher than any I have seen. The students get to perform with many of their heroes in the music like Herbie Hancock, George Coleman, Hubert Laws at the many concerts at school. The faculty including legends like Sir Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, (artist in resident) Benny Golson and Christian Macbride and the rest of the incredible player/educators who teach at there. Additionally the name value throughout the globe makes this program the most valuable in the world. I travel all over the world, and it seems one of the most impressive things for people is the Juilliard name, and the fact that I played with these conductors I named. When you mention that Juilliard name, eyes light up.

The foresight to actually send students out on tour for a week at a time, and to have the students working the summer Juilliard jazz camps creates invaluable experience for these young players. SOmething virtually no other institution does. This is the type of experience I never got until I hit road with Peggy Lee Quintet and the many other jazz luminaries I have worked with over the years. Especially in the educational area, Juilliard really cultivates the students by allowing them to do workshops in the Juilliard School name. Gaining experience teaching, as well as communicating in foreign countries with language barriers, and cultural barriers. Learning to deal with promoters, and local educators in foreign countries is a social art in itself. Congratulations to Dr. Joseph Polisi, Dr. Laurie Carter, and Carl Allen for their free thinking and incredible as I have said “vision” to create this monster program for aspiring jazz players. It is an honor and privilege to be part of this. I highly recommend any aspiring  young  jazz players of level to apply to The Juilliard School. The greatest music school in the world!

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Saul Goodman                                                                Carl Allen

On The Queen Mary ll with James Burton Jr, Xavier Davis, Jason Stewart, and myself.

Sorry I have not blogged in a while, as I sort of got loaded down with the summer activities. Basically I was 3 times to Europe for concerts since the last tour with Lenny White and Bob Franceschini.

From June 18-22 I had the privilege of teaching at The Juilliard summer jazz camp in Atlanta. I was selected to substitute for Carl Allen teaching drums at the camp, and of course playing on the final concert with the faculty. Many of you don’t know this , but I play a lot of drums as I studied with Elvin Jones as a youngster, and was and still am into Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, Roy Haynes and all the there great jazz master drummers. So teaching and playing in Atlanta brought back many memories of playing with Kenny Kirkland and Rodney Jones when growing up. The camp was great as we taught many talented aspiring high school jazz players. On Friday night final day of camp the students performed in their combos, and the faculty band performed. What treat to play a concert with Ben Wolfe on bass, Frank Kimbrough, Miles Ozaki, Joe Magnarelli, Marc Vinci, and James Burton jr. I had a wonderful time. One of the highlights of the camp as well for me was Joe Magnarelli and I plunge for 45 minutes everyday during a free period we had. What ball jamming with Mags, trumpet and drums. It was wide open and free and left me with that great feeling of freedom in the music.

I returned to New York on June 23rd and had 4 days home before I departed for Europe. I flew to Napoli and spent 4 5 days there playing festivals. One of the festivals I did was the Marigliano Jazz Festival near Napoli Italy. I did several events at that festival. I played one night with the Craig Hartley Trio with Craig on piano, Carlo De Rosa on bass, and Curtis Florian on drums. A great trio. I had a great playing with these cats. They swing their asses off. Next day I rehearsed with the Antonio Ciacca Big Band, and then did my 2-hour workshop on “Language Skills Fro Jazz Improvisation”. The next night I performed as a guest artist with that big band for the final concert of the festival.

Next day I flew back to New York. It was good to get back to NYC as I had a few gigs and spent 3 weeks with my family, which was great. One of the gigs in New York was a tribute to Bobby Hutcherson at Birdland NYC. This event was sponsored by WBGO and I played with George Cables, Buster Williams, and Victor Lewis. Accompanied by 3 other vibes players Steve Nelson, Warren Wolfe, and Jay Hoggard. We played all Bobby Hutcherson tunes. It was a great night with an all star rhythm section. Then on August 3rd I departed on another Juilliard School event. I performed on the Queen Mary ll cruise ship for a week as it gave me a trans-Atlantic ride to Europe which was my destination for some more jazz festivals.

On the cruise I had a great time playing drums and vibes with James Burton Jr., Xavier Davis, and Jason Stewart. On this setting I did a really interesting thing that I really have never done before. I played drums and vibes. So I would start every tune on drums and when the bass player was soloing I would fade away from the drums and move to the vibes and then take a solo with piano and bass only for a while. Then when finished I would subtly move back tot the drums and finish out the tune. The crowds loved it, and it was a new experience for me as well. Usually it is one or the other. Not both.

After arriving in Southampton the car transported us all to Heathrow airport in London and everyone went their own ways. I went on to Italy where I had a few gigs. One of them was the Isbani Jazz Festival near Salerno. It was a great night of music and I sold lots of CD’s.

Anyway after a few hits in Italy I returned home. Easier said than done as the car my manager sent for me to drive the 2.5 hour drive to Rome was 4o minutes late and then when we finally got on the road we had a flat tire that the driver could not change, and I subsequently missed my flight from Rom-London where I needed to catch my return flight that the Queen Mary 2 had provided. Anyway it cost my manager 434 euro to get me on the last flight out of Pescara Airport, which was 30 km from where the car broke down. Pretty much one of those act of god nightmares we all go through sometimes. Either way I arrived safely home after many hours traveling, but really exhausted. I am off the planes until my California tour and residency on Oct 4th, and then off to Europe again in November with my new band with Bob Franceschini, and Adam Nussbaum called. (THEM)

All in all a great summer with great music. For now it is back to Juilliard Jazz and my other teaching gigs at New Jersey City University and The New York Jazz Workshop.

Played drums and vibes on the QE ll. WHat a ball!

James Burton Jr, Jason Stewart, Xavier Davis, mark Sherman on the Queen Mary ll

Bobby Huterson Tribute at Birdland in NYC with George Cables, Buster Williams, Victor Lewis, and 3 other vibes players. Warren Wolfe, Steve Nelson, and Joy Hoggard.

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Isbani Jazz festival view

Isbani Jazz Festival