Hometown: Lawrenceville, NJ
Alma mater: Rutgers University
Musical origins: My dad gave me a CD of a 1930s jazz group called the John Kirby sextet for my eleventh birthday and I was impressed with the sight of the double bass on the cover. The next year I learned about bassist James Jamerson when my mom showed me the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown and my godfather mailed me a book of his basslines; I became obsessed.
Favorite composer fact: Charles Mingus trained his pet cat, Nightlife, to use the toilet, and authored the immensely informative Charles Mingus CAT-alog for Toilet Training Your Cat. Take note: “The main thing to remember is not to rush or confuse him.”
Favorite musical memory: Playing with musicians in Cuba
Favorite non-classical band: Grupo Folklórico Experimental Nuevayorkino and Conjunto Libre, two groups comprised of New York-based Latin musicians who made outstanding records in the ’70s.
Musical guilty pleasure: Blasting Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston, but I wouldn’t call this a “guilty” pleasure
Favorite non-musical activity: Spending time with animals
Last book read: Dune by Frank Herbert
Favorite painting: Paintings by Peter Bruegel the Elder have all the visual entertainment one should ever need.
Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Stretch your comfort zone and get interested in playing other types of music. Also, you’re never too old or too accomplished to take lessons.
Time travel destination: Cuba from 1920 to the 1950s to catch performances by legends such as Arsenio Rodríguez, Beny Moré, Trío Matamoros, and La Sonora Matancera