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'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.
The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame will provide a center where the lives and the artistry of the greatest jazz musicians will be celebrated, and where people will come to learn about jazz, something to which my brother devoted his life's work.
Jazz music, as is also the case with the old down-home spirituals, gospel and jubilee songs, jumps, shouts and moans, is essentially an American vernacular or idiomatic modification of musical conventions imported from Europe, beginning back during the time of the early settlers of the original colonies.
I was always inundated with music, whether it be my mother's favorites like Fleetwood Mac and Carole King and the Carpenters, or my dad's jazz music.
Listening to the stories told in jazz music and how those artists expressed their truths about the times and what they were dealing with is what struck me the most.
I was heavily influenced by big voices when I was younger. People like Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Patti Labelle really spoke to me. When I got older, I was into Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Lauryn Hill, but it wasn't until I started working with a voice coach that I really dove into jazz music.
I found that jazz musicians, possibly more than their classical counterparts, wear long-standing friendships easily and gracefully.
Some people are born with a brain that has this weird, magical mathematical thing that makes them an amazing jazz musician.
A jazz musician can improvise based on his knowledge of music. He understands how things go together. For a chef, once you have that basis, that's when cuisine is truly exciting.