I started playing classical piano at age four. When I was a teenager I got into the NYC salsa scene, inspired by my studies with the great African art theorist Robert Farris Thompson (and the brilliance of the music!). It was an exciting time, and I had the privilege of working with people like Celia Cruz, Daniel Ponce, Tito Puente, and the great Mario Rivera. This branched out into playing with Brasilian artists such as Bebel Gilberto, and touring with David Byrne (on the Rei Momo tour).
I spent many years composing and musical directing for Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go, combining my classical influences with Latin music to create a unique soundscape for children. During that time I also explored singing North Indian raga, and performed electronic multimedia concerts featuring vocals, keyboards, breath-controlled synthesizer, and looping pedals at the Knitting Factory, The Guggenheim Museum, Le Petit Versailles, and the Stone.
My mom spent the last years of her life in an assisted living center in Connecticut. Whenever I visited, she insisted that I play my roots music – classical piano – for her and her friends (who included a gentleman named Harvey, who was 100 years old and a former student of Josef Lhevinne!) I began to think about trying to realize a lifelong dream – to combine this repertoire with original compositions that draw on all my experience with world and classical music, in a live acoustic band.
I had the opportunity to do this in 2016, when Scot Albertson invited me to present a concert at New York’s DiMenna Center sponsored by Project 142. I asked three stellar musicians that I admired – Zach Brock (Snarky Puppy), Mauricio Zottarelli (Eliane Elias), and Michael O’Brien – to join me. The concert began with me on solo piano playing Haydn, Ravel, and Chopin. When the band joined in on an original composition based on the Ravel prelude I had performed, the excitement was palpable.
This year, building on the energy from that first concert, I became a student of Seymour Bernstein, the legendary pianist profiled in the Ethan Hawke documentary, and composed more music for the quartet, which has continued to engage live audiences with a unique mix of classical and original world music (and poetry!) We successfully completed our first fan-funded ArtistShare project, Alaya, produced by Sandro Albert.
I look forward to you joining me as an ArtistShare participant, where you will have access to the creative process behind the making of Alaya.