Tell us a little about the music you make.
Much of my original music is freely improvised, though I also have a singer/songwriter project under my own name, and my punk/metal band People In Trouble. After graduating college, I became involved in jazz and improvised music centered around Fred Anderson’s Velvet Lounge, and much of my original and sideman work continues in that tradition. During college, I joined the University of Chicago’s Middle East Music Ensemble and stayed with the group for at least 15 years, and I still play out in various contexts.
How did your musical education start?
I started taking private guitar lessons when I was 7, and stayed with the same teacher for many years, while eventually also taking music classes in school and in various summer programs.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of your musical education?
Developing patience with myself to work slowly through things.
Tell us about your current music goals.
With free improvisation as a continual testing ground, I’d like to continue developing fluency on my various instruments. I’d also like to finish and record some guitar arrangements I’ve begun of piano pieces by Messiaen and several early 20th-century Eastern European and Russian composers.
What music gets you excited about making music?
Aside from old favorites that I come back to, I’m lucky to say that the music of my friends and colleagues in my various projects is what excites me the most.
Why did you decide to teach music?
At first, because it was something I was able to do well and charge for. As I became more experienced I found that I enjoyed it and it helped sharpen my own skills as a musician.
How long have you been involved with Intonation?
It’ll be 15 years this January
Tell us about your upcoming release.
I have a few recent releases, one of improvised music with my duo GegeDidi, one of solo improvisations, and one home-recorded pandemic album of my original songs. I recently recorded with the improvising quartet Brochure (myself, Norman Long, Julian Otis, and Oui Ennui), and will be recording soon with Paul Abella’s Questionable Decisions (myself, Paul, Preyas Roy, and Chris Bernhardt)
Why do you believe music education is important?
Everyone lives in a musical culture, but many are cut off from music-making as an integral or even conceivable part of their lives. Ideally, music education, built around people’s own culture and not prescribed as an elite corrective, can provide people with tools to bridge that gap.