As a great master once told me, “This is only the beginning”. I didn’t understand what he meant by that or how it related to where I was in my musical development. Months later I would have an important experience that helped me to understand the meaning of that phrase, and it became the sign that spreading joy through music was my calling in life. Along the way there were also plenty of important teachers that helped me grow tremendously; Not only teaching me important lessons through music, but in my own life as well.
In fourth grade I started to play the Alto Saxophone, my mother picked it out because she had a good feeling about the instrument. My first music teacher to make an influence on my playing was Mr. Leftwhich in elementary school. He would make the band play complex tunes such as Green Onions (Booker T & The M.G’s), Mission Impossible (Lalo Schifrin), and the Star Wars Theme (John Williams). Working on those tunes, he taught us that through hard work and dedication you could achieve any challenge along the way. After elementary school I studied outside of middle school under the tutelage of renowned pianist Joyce Di Camillo at her workshop. Being with Joyce I learned so much about playing jazz and the importance of the Great American Songbook. However, the most important lesson I learned from her, especially in improvisation was to give everyone an opportunity to try something new, even if you are not the greatest player. She later on introduced me to one of the most important sax teachers in my musical development that would create a lasting influence on the way I play, Bill Harris.
Taking lessons with Bill changed my whole approach to the saxophone. Around that time he convinced me to switch to the Tenor Saxophone, and thus I found my natural voice. Lessons I learned from Bill were to always work on the fundamentals of your craft and to pay attention to detail. However besides the great ideas I was learning, when I got to high school I was disappointed with how the band program was turning out. The high school band teacher was a negative influence on everybody and it really let me down that year. However, I found out about a magnet arts program in my county and convinced my parents that I wanted to be apart of the program. Soon enough I was enrolled into the program formally known as Regional Center for the Arts. At RCA I was exposed to all genres of music as opposed to just jazz (which at the time I only wanted to play). Playing music of all different genres from Rock, Fusion, Pop, R&B, Metal, Classical, Jazz, and traditional music from Ghana, and Cuba helped transform my appreciation for more musical ideas.
One last teacher who I met during this period outside of RCA who can never thank enough is someone I can consider a master at spreading happiness through music, Lester “Neddy” Smith. He out of all the teachers has had an even greater influence on my development musically and as a human being. The most important lesson I learned from him was the need to explore the world around me, to listen all the time, to challenge society, and live with purpose. Every single lesson I was learning since I started playing music was all leading to the one very important night that would change the direction of my journey for the greater good.
It was the RCA Spring concert, and I knew I was incredibly excited to perform my feature of the night. Eventually we got to my feature of the night, which was I Remember Clifford by Benny Golson. I got up on stage and closed my eyes and let it go. I had never played with so much passion before then in that moment during the melody and in my solo. Then all of a sudden it was time for the cadenza, and that was when the magic began to happen. I was no longer thinking about idea’s I was reaching for something beyond my comprehension. After that moment I felt the most incredible sense of joy in my entire life, and I realized that this was the beginning.
The beginning meant for me hope, excitement, and the new possibilities of where the future might go. After that moment my future seemed to open up to a world of infinite possibilities. Now whenever I am working on or playing music for anybody I will always remind myself of that moment, and how important it is to bring everybody together towards a greater future of happiness and love.
Experience & Education
Leader of Group for Andrew DeNicola ProjectJanuary 2014 to Present (over 5 years)
Started a Jazz Quintet outside of Berklee, going to gig around and play in different venues.
Tenor Sax/Clarinet Chair for Sub For Clockwork Chamber OrchestraSeptember 2014 to December 2014 (3 months)
Played Tenor Saxophone/Clarinet in The Clockwork Chamber Orchestra for the entire semester, learning original classical music
Jazz Composition/Performance in Jazz Composition/Performance at Berklee College Of Music2013 to 2017 (4 years)