Musical Influences

Early / Grade School Musical Influences
During these early years, however, I was strongly influenced by the quality music frequently played by my parents. Some of their favorite artists included:

Grateful Dead

  • Allman Brothers
  • Eagles
  • Steely Dan
  • Moody Blues
  • Doobie Brothers
  • Loggins & Messina
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
  • Seals & Croft
  • Jackson Brown
  • George Benson
  • Chuck Mangione
  • America
  • Cowboy
  • The Marshall Tucker Band
  • Paul Horn
  • Pablo Cruise

I also owned several albums of my own in grade school, which I played constantly:

By High School I a narrowed my own musical influences to include:

Artist Specific Albums Comments
Chuck Mangione
  • Bellavia
  • Live at the Hollywood Bowl
  • Feel So Good
  • Tarantella
Introduced me jazz compositions a variety in styles and ensembles. Great guest artists & improvisations.
George Benson Breezin’ Polished instrumentals AND jazz vocals.
Steely Dan Aja Great rock meets great jazz, featuring the talents of Wayne Shorter, Steve Gadd, and others.
  • Moving Pictures
  • 2112
  • Power Windows
True progressive art-rock plus my first exposure to odd meters!  I wore these records out!
Symphonic Band Music All the albums from the All-State Bands I played in. Listened to them until I memorized every line of every part!
  • Genesis
  • Invisible Touch
Because everybody listened to Genesis!
Phil Collins
  • No Jacket Required
  • Face Value
  • Hello, I Must Be Going
Infectious dance tunes (i.e. Sussudio and Billy Don’t Lose My Number) in addition to real mood makers (i.e. In The Air Tonight)
Tears for Fears Songs From the Big Chair Short-lived but intense fascination with a very musical British art-pop group
  • Chicago 16
  • Chicago 17
  • Greatest Hits
Loved the horns! Remember the extended passage in “Hard for Me To Say I’m Sorry”… tattooed to my brain!
  • Escape
  • Raised on the Radio
Great piano, great guitar, great drummer, acrobatic vocalist,… what’s not to love?
Led Zeppelin
  • Zeppelin I-IV
  • Houses of the Holy
  • Plain Brown Wrapper
Of course, who didn’t?
Pink Floyd
  • Dark Side of the Moon
  • The Wall
  • Animals
Of course, who didn’t?
The Beatles White Album From folk to avant-garde!  I loved the contrast!

College Years Influences

Artist Comments
Pat Metheny /
The Pat Metheny Group
Pat has become the artist with whom I have most closely associated my own musical language and philosophies.  I own nearly all of his recordings and follow his career very closely.  Click here to hear a promise made by Pat Metheny to me after a concert in Washington D.C.!
Hank Levy My first composition teacher and a major force in shaping my musical direction. Hank introduced me to the music of Don Ellis (who he composed and arranged for) the music of Pat Metheny, and to odd meters.  His compositions were always of the highest possible musical value and he felt comfortable with any arrangement of instruments and voices.
Don Ellis Perhaps the most creative musician who ever lived. It’s all said in my doctoral dissertation, The Exotic Rhythms of Don Ellis.
Any Big Band Music Between  the influence of Hank and the music of Don Ellis, I became fascinated with the energy of big band ensembles.  I began absorbing any modern big band recordings I could get my hands on… The Tonight Show Big Band, GRP Big Band, Bob Mintzer Big Band, etc.
Michael Brecker In my opinion, the greatest improviser alive today.  A very adventurous composer also. May he R.I.P.
Chick Corea A classically trained pianist and composer and cutting edge fusion jazzman… my kind of guy!  I admire his “Trio for Bassoon, Flute, and Piano” as much as his synth programming on The Chick Corea Elektric Band albums.
Scott Henderson & Gary Willis (Tribal Tech) Mostly just 4/4 vamps & grooves, but the highest quality hard jazz fusion with and edge. Great rock/jazz improvisations & great ensemble.
John Patitucci Great bass player and adventurous composer on his solo albums.
Dave Gruisin From the brilliant film scores of On Golden Pond and The Firm to great synthesizer work with his brother Don, to quality jazz piano in his tributes to Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, this guy is a complete musician! (Not to mention the fact that he owns his own label… GRP)


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Top Hobbies & Interests

  • Music
  • Univ. of MD Men's Basketball (Terps)
  • Washington Redskins
  • Washington Wizards
  • Recreational (i.e. Don't-keep-score) Golf
  • Computers
  • Audiophile & Home Theater Equipment
  • Movies -- Just the Good Ones :-)
  • Fine Restaurants
  • Fine Wines
  • Sophisticated Stand-up Comedy

Recommended Books

Recommended Music

  • Pat Metheny Group -- The Way Up

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  • Pat Metheny Group -- Speaking of Now

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  • Pat Metheny -- Orchestrion

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  • Pat Metheny Unity Group -- Kin (<-->)

  • Bobby McFerrin -- VOCAbuLarieS

  • Don Ellis -- Tears of Joy

  • Snarky Puppy -- aka "The Michael League Group"