1) Tell us about your musical background?
I first started playing guitar because I heard The Beatles, and I wanted to play music just like that. Growing up I played a lot in rock band and clubs around New York City. Later, I got more interested in improvised music, especially jazz. I thought it was cool how you could spontaneously create something with other people, communicating through music. I decided to pursue a music degree and eventually graduated from the New School jazz program, where I got to study and play with some really great people.
2) What are you working on now?
This past summer I released my second album, Falling. It’s with this quintet of fantastic players and all-around good guys. We’ve been playing around the east coast for the last few months, and the album has gotten some nice reviews, so I’m pleased with the result. I’ve also really enjoyed working with the quintet, so now I’m thinking about doing a follow-up album with the same group, but maybe with a bit of a different sound.
I’m also finishing up a new recording featuring a septet, playing all original compositions. I’m looking forward to releasing that record sometime in 2013. Also, a horror film I scored called “Happy House” recently had its first screening at the Orlando Film Festival.
When I’m not playing or composing, I’m doing marathon training. Since the NYC race didn’t happen this year, I’m excited to be running the Miami marathon in January.
3) What is the role of education in music?
Through learning about music and becoming a better musician, I really “learned how to learn,” I mean the process of getting better at something and developing a skill. I think everyone should learn how to play an instrument. Aside from the joy you get from playing music, you also develop a discipline that you can apply to anything you do. For instance, training to run a marathon!
I’ve been teaching music and guitar for many years, and I continue to learn from my students. By teaching something, you learn more about it and appreciate it more. One of the amazing things about music is that there’s always more to learn.
4) How do you feel about the current ‘state of the music industry’?
These days there are so many avenues and opportunities to present your music, to get it out and heard, it’s exciting. Now a musician doesn’t have to rely on a record label to be able to promote their own music. On the other hand, I still mourn the loss of record stores. In some way we’ve lost the human and physical element of discovering music. I used to find so much great music that way, just being able to visit a local record shop and talk to someone to learn about what’s new and innovative… you just don’t have that option anymore. I hope in the future there will be a way to bring the human, social element back into music. Maybe jazz is a genre that can make that happen.
5) Why do use R.Cocco Strings?
I like R.Cocco strings because of their balance and precision. When I put them on, the guitar really opens up. It sounds and feels better, so it’s more fun to play. I use them on my Strat for playing live rock and reggae. The tension and response feels great and it sounds super clear… I can get a really nice funk tone, as well as a big, searing sound for solos.