It's a spirit that was given me and the relationships and meeting all these great people, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong; through Max I met a lot of people too. My first album was with Benny Carter.
I love Ray Charles. He can still teach everybody a lot about how to make great music. Not necessarily how to make hits, but how to make great music. Of course, part of it is his incredible talent. Who are the greatest jazz singers in the world? Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles.
Louis Armstrong playing trumpet on the Judgment Day.
The clarinet is not so dominant in Israeli music as it is in klezmer. I heard klezmer when I was growing up, but for some reason I avoided it. I listened to Louis Armstrong instead. But the sense of melody is the connection between jazz and klezmer.
The New York that Frank Sinatra sang about, people will never know that place. The New Orleans that Louis Armstrong sang about is the New Orleans that's still there - it's preserved.
I'm really a product of an excellent school system and supportive parents. My high school band director gave me recordings of Louis Armstrong, Kenny Ball, and contemporaries like Nicholas Payton.
When I was a young man, I shined the shoes of Louis Armstrong and Louis Jordan! Music was just everywhere like that. And in my family, everyone could play something, and if they couldn't play, they could sing.
I have always loved creating and entertaining. It started with music, singing. I grew up in a household filled with music - not pop but old-school stuff, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong.
Do you think Duke Ellington didn't listen to Debussy? Louis Armstrong loved opera, did you know that? Name me a jazz pianist who wasn't influenced by European music!
My uncle gave me a trumpet, but I loved the Louis Armstrong sound and the Harry James sound and I played by ear and I played always soulful or very direct from the gut.