As one would imagine, I was surrounded with music, but knowing first hand, the difficulties of the profession, my parents both strongly discouraged any involvement beyond listening. I was 11 when I began taking trumpet lessons. I enjoyed it for a few months, but I really always loved the bass. My mother used to take me to rehearsals and jobs all of the time. I can recall listening and watching all of those great bassists she worked with; in particular, Wally Schuman and Tommy Azarello. I knew, even then, that I was destined to play the bass, there was just something mystical about it. Sometimes on a break, they would let me pick up the bass and it just felt so natural to me, I could just play it.
But, playing the bass remained a hidden desire until my freshman year at engineering school in Massachusetts. I got my first bass and immediately started playing folk music and jazz in the Boston area. By the time my junior year came around I got up the courage to bring the bass home for summer vacation and break the news to my mother. Well, I will never forget it; we played together for the first time and that was it. She did nothing but encourage and help me after that. And so, during summer breaks, I began studying with Teddy Mayer and others in the Buffalo area.
Then I was drafted after engineering school. Well, it’s a long, fascinating story, but would you believe that I ended up playing bass in the Army Band in Berlin Germany. What an experience, I was blessed to be able to get to play with Carmel Jones, Leo Wright, Slide Hampton and even Duke Ellington just before his passing. Along with playing with all kinds of Jazz groups in Berlin, I was most fortunate to be able to study with Prof. Rainier Zepperitz who was the Principal Soloist of the Berlin Philharmonic at the time. What an honor and fantastic experience that turned out to be. I just recently discovered that the Professor passed away in December 2009 at the young age of 79. The Professor was a remarkable Bassist and Teacher. He was a huge influence and inspiration in my earlier years. Check the link above to learn more about the Great Professor Rainier Zepperitz. Also, thanks to some of his later students, you can now actually sit in on one of his Master Classes. I cannot tell you how wonderful it made me feel to hear his voice and see him again. (See Button Below)
After the Army experience, I returned to Buffalo and very briefly studied music at UB and continued my studies with Mr. Mayor. But it wasn’t very long before I got a call to play a jazz concert in Columbus, Ohio. Well, I ended up staying there for a little over a year playing 6 and 7 nights a week. After that year, I once again returned home, this time to stay. The rest, as they say is history, I settled in and started working with many of Buffalo’s finest musicians. Just as note, my mother was right, I love playing music, but the music business is really a tough way to make a living.