"I grew up in a household where music was playing all the time: my father loved jazz, my mother loved classical and Spanish music, and my brother was a musician. I gained an appreciation for musicians who keep exploring new ground, and have done some of that myself. Music became a journey for me; playing in bands, I went from R&B and rock to jazz, and started doing experimental things."
"Teaching is a way for me to pass on the information I’ve gotten over time. To function as a jazz composer at any level, you’ve got to be willing to produce your stuff, even if it’s just a demo of what it’s supposed to sound like. As a producer you facilitate everyone else’s ability to fulfill their roles. You have to acquire listening and analytical skills and understand underlying systems of harmony, form, and development. You need be able to communicate both abstract concepts and concrete ideas; to conceptualize what’s going to be on a stage before even thinking about writing for what’s going to be on that stage. You have to learn how to organize sounds, instruments, time (in the musical sense and otherwise), groups of people, and schedules. It takes attention to detail. And—because this is jazz after all—it takes flexibility. You have to plan for improvisation."
"We are human beings first, and then musicians. I want my students to take away an understanding that they have to be honest with themselves. I want them to have acquired the tools and sensibilities to evolve and understand the world around us. When I teach, I stress that you have to be persistent, honest about self-evaluation, dedicated, and committed to pursuing growth and excellence, since it doesn’t happen by itself. No matter what career direction you take, one thing we know is that life is going to intervene at some point. And if you’re neglecting any major area of your life, that will affect all other areas."
"Since I approach my own life with a sense of adventure, I also tell my students to take a step back from their music, take a look at the adventure they want to undertake, and appreciate the fact that we’re fortunate to be able to spend time developing a relationship with an instrument. It’s really a profound luxury that can be easy to overlook and take for granted. It has to be treated with care."
- M.M., Cleveland State University
- Bandleader, musician, producer, and educator
- Performances and recordings with Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath, James Newton, James Moody, Bobby Watson, Antonio Hart, Winard Harper, Cindy Blackman, Vanessa Rubin, Cecil Bridgewater, Talib Kibwe (T.K. Blue), Don Braden, Robin Eubanks, Leon Lee Dorsey, the Canton Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra
- Works performed by the Cavani String Quartet at Merken Hall in New York and the Britt Festival, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Savion Glover, and the Canton Symphony Orchestra
- Recordings include On the Real, Miles Away...Wayne in Heavy, and Who Sez?