“Music will always be a part of me, and I don’t ever foresee myself stop performing at some capacity.”
S: What was your first contact with music and when did you start playing?
C: My first contact with music was pretty much when I started taking music lessons. My dad wanted us to start taking music lessons, so when I was in 3rd grade, I started taking lessons on trumpet and some piano shortly after.
S: What instruments do you play? How long have you been playing them?
C: Oh gosh – besides the trumpet and piano I do play the drums too. I’ve been playing the drums since my junior year in high school, so 17 years? Trumpet was about 15 years, before taking a extended break following college. All together trumpet 19 years? The piano I would say wasn’t the biggest performance instrument for me – it was always a tool I used to understand music from a theory stand point. Exploring my creativity lately however, I have recently been getting into synthesis and am planing on continuing to perform piano in front of live audiences.
S: Where do you draw your inspiration from in regards to playing your instruments? What styles do you play?
C: It literally comes from everywhere. I’ll be listening to one of Mark Guliana’s groups one minute and change to Motion City Sound Track. Robert Glasper to Sublime. I play everything from gypsy jazz to experimental, bebop to reggae, Alternative rock to Salsa. With playing in so many different groups and genres/instruments, it’s a challenge for me personally to take off one hat, and put on another, so I don’t sound like I’m Mr. Jazz trying to play reggae to rock, or Chick Corea playing Indie Rock (although that might be sick!). I try to fit what the music is supposed to sound like, and that can be tough! Inspiration comes from great quality musicians/music in the genre. You just gotta find it and listen to it!
S: How long have you been performing music?
C: Pretty much as soon as I got into 5th and 6th grade classroom music. We had holiday concerts for our parents and what not. I took my first jazz solos when I was in 7th grade. Pretty cool!
S: At what capacity do you work with The Sierra Project?
C: Lately I have been collaborating/performing/rehearsing a lot more with them. Over the past year I met Mauricio through mutual music friends, and we discovered we both played jazz and just hit it off. I’m hoping to continue to perform with the group into the near future and beyond! A great group with lots of potential.
S: What other projects are you currently involved in?
C: I currently play drums with local long time reggae rockers Indosurf, and perform in Andrew Kenefick’s gypsy jazz/folk rock group Bigfoot and The Moon. There are a couple other projects I have been playing with and getting into, but won’t name them off quite yet. I’m hoping to debut a synthwave/jazz solo project at some point, but not quite sure on the release date of that.
S: Did you study music? What was your major or emphasis? Do you plan to continue your career with music? Why or why not?
C: Yes I did. I went to Cal State Northridge after high school and received my bachelors in Jazz Studies. Music will always be a part of me, and I don’t ever foresee myself stop performing at some capacity. I stopped playing jazz for a while after college, but recently just realized that I need to be playing it. I’d be doing myself a disservice if I wasn’t.
S: What do you think is the status of jazz today? What do you think is the status of jazz in the Central Valley?
C: Jazz has been interesting lately because I feel like you’ve had this group of musicians really push the envelope when it comes to the true form of the art, a resurgence so to speak. It’s not necessarily everyone regurgitating the old standards, they’re trying new things, with new beats and new instruments, which is resulting in a resurgence of the art form. With more people around the valley, we will continue to see interest I think in jazz. Fresno will continue to lead the charge I think, with the location of Fresno State and just the size of the city, but I hope we continue to see clubs and jam sessions that are dedicated to jazz all over the valley (and hopefully Visalia!)
S: What do you think is the future of jazz?
C: I feel like jazz has a huge future with electronic music, simply from the stand point that you can create sounds from some of those instruments that haven’t been created before. And hip hop as well. That’s what jazz is – it’s freedom, it’s innovation, it’s improvisation. There are a lot of guys trying to do some really cool stuff when it comes to instrument innovation, and I think you’ll continue to see that. You can only play some of the old standards so many times before you want to grab your prophet 5 and play some sort of crazy synth solo, or rearrange the tune over a cool breakbeat. I think that’s where you’ll see people continue to push it.
Interview by Stephanie Barraza