1. Your musical work ranges from classical to jazz. But the first listening to your music brings to mind also the European (post) avant-garde. What aspects of European music of the 1900s influenced more your music? Vice versa, which influence on your work comes from the American tradition?
Many of my deepest musical influences are 20th century European composers. As I’ve developed, my interests have shifted between various styles and aesthetic viewpoints but my interest in something that might be called modernism has been pretty consistent. Early in my writing life I was drawn the sensuality of Debussy and Ravel.
Both composers continue to be wellsprings for the way I deal with harmony. The way they allow harmony to melt from one sonority to another is something I try to capture in my own compositions, as well as the arrangements I write. I love the fluidity of their languages. As I’ve developed my linear voice, the music of Stravinsky (the neoclassical works especially) and Weill have been huge influences on me. These two composers have had a consistent and powerful hold over my artistic imagination. I draw from both of them on a daily basis. Texturally I am drawn to Dutilleux, Webern, Lutoslawski, among others. Their use of sonorities as kinds of structural pillars is something that has fascinated me for a long time. All this being said, it all goes back to Bach for me, which I know is a little cliché. I have also had a love affair for a long time now with renaissance sacred music.
My American influences are mostly jazz-related. An exception is Ives, who was big for me when I was in school. But I enjoy all of the standard major jazz artists like Miles and Coltrane, Mingus and Shorter. The people who have left a mark on my writing are Steve Lacy, Frank Carlberg, Bob Brookmeyer, Vince Mendoza, Gil Evans, and Monk. I could go on and on, but I think this is a good smattering. For me the connection between Bach, Webern, and Monk feels obvious and essential.
My interests and career have me working in all kinds of different styles of music,classical, jazz, pop, what have you; but I consider myself a jazz musician with contemporary western art music sensibilities. Improvisation is hugely important to me. If I write too much music without an improviser I get a little itchy and have to write a big band chart. I love the conversation that begins when someone starts improvising over a structure I’ve created. I think it is thrilling, to say the least.