My father, I think he played percussion in high school. My mother played piano when she was very young, but only for a brief while. I don’t think she had a great teacher. In any case, neither of them were really into music at a young age.
A lot of times, we look at jazz in eras. How can we not keep those eras separate and think of the language as one complete continuum? It’s all interrelated, and it’s all evolutionary.
I had experiences or exposure to music in church. I went to a church, it was very unique. It was a predominantly African American Catholic church. So they would have – one mass would be traditional church music, and then the other mass would be gospel music.
My grandfather, Arthur Baskerville, he played and still plays a little bit piano and trombone, and so when I was a kid, I always heard jazz around the house, but I also went to his gigs, whether it be a Saturday brunch in my hometown Columbus, Ohio. We’d go and hear him play with some of the local musicians.
I consider myself very fortunate. I mean, I think there’s that old saying, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ and I just have such a passion for jazz music and playing the piano that I just find a way to make it work, so to speak. Fortunately, I have so far.
I really want to bring ensemble playing back to the forefront – not just for me, but for everyone in jazz. When you have a group, a true co-op group, you can really heighten the possibilities of all the treasures of jazz.
There’s a huge part of me that’s thinking about perfection. I have to fight that urge, to try to live in the moment, reach for something that I might be hearing, and not second-guess myself.
The older I get, the more I realize the importance of maintaining an even temperament – not getting too emotional, focusing on the task at hand. You don’t want to make a business deal based on your emotions.
When I see young people interested in music. I always look out for that passion in their eyes. You never know where that might lead.
It’s much like playing jazz, flying. It’s multitasking in real time. You have a number of instruments that alone won’t tell you exactly what the airplane is doing but together give you a picture of everything that’s going on.
I’m not saying that in order to be a great jazz musician you have to be a great classical pianist first. But I am saying that it makes things easier when you can get around the instrument, and you have some idea of how to approach the various hurdles.