Jazz Influences, New and Old

I've always made it a point to seek originality in both my playing and composition, but also to find the things that are most compelling about any artist that stood out. In the search to find a 'perfect mix', I went through many different decades of Jazz and many centuries of Classical Music. I went through everything from Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt to Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Robert Glasper, Taylor Eigsti and Aaron Parks. I listened to Drummer led groups like Art Blakey and Elvin Jones, and Horn led groups like Sam Rivers, Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, among many others. All of these recorded artists and more helped me find a way, in their own capacity.

When it comes to developing my own voice, I felt that I had a prerogative to do that from the moment I started playing piano. The first time I played the piano, I was barely able to talk. But I was able to spend some time making sounds that sparked my musical curiosity. That curiosity was dormant for a while as I underwent a classical education early on, but it woke up as soon as the idea of making my own music presented itself. As I listened to more artists, I also took any music I had learned and started to think of ways to make it my own.

Eventually it all came together when I started taking apart solos. I transcribed Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, and also listened to Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, and many others, before going to college. I was always drawn to certain things, like Herbie's Head Hunters, Man-Child, and his collaborations with Jaco Pastorius, and played each of those albums over and over again.

Eventually I found that I couldn't necessarily have the same sounds as these monumental artists and needed to form sounds on my own. There were many contemporary, brand new artists on in the industry who were already doing just that. It was daunting for a while, but I found it very useful to take after the way that many of these artists put their sounds together-- artists such as Tigran Hamasyan, Taylor Eigsti, Gerald Clayton, Aaron Parks, Fabian Almazan, Jason Lindner and many others. Also many guitar players started to give me a different take on music-- Mike Moreno, Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Scofield, and many others.

I have learned that mimicking the sounds of contemporaries or even trying to sound like older generations, won't necessarily do me any good, because every sound is a result of every artist's own particular musical journey. I have sought to expand my own music and take notes from these contemporaries in order to make as many musical strides forward as possible. There were things I would draw from singular examples from time to time, and admittedly, at times it becomes hard to escape different proclivities and idiosyncrasies of some of the most influential of the players.

At the end of the day, there are a few things that I really want to take from any of my influences-- the emotion I get, the excitement I get, and the vibe that I get. All of the artists I'v listen above, have donee all three of those things, in flying colors for me. And, many others did as well. For instance, John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner. And, the many drummers that I didn't mention here and their groups. There's simply too many to talk about.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the many artists that influenced my musical development this far. As more time goes by, I only hope I will continue down a path that goes many places and one that always challenges and invigorates me and contributes the best end result possible.

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