Photo by Jeff Dunn

Photo by Jeff Dunn

Photo by Austin Grinnell.

Photo by Austin Grinnell.

Biography

As an improviser, composer, and interpreter, my goal is to enrich peoples' lives through music. Music possesses a power, perhaps best understood in irrational, emotional, or spiritual terms, to transform the way people experience and process the world around them. Before I could articulate it, this power is what drew me to the creation of music. 

I was raised in rural Middleville, MI where farms abound and the sense of community is strong. The music of my childhood was curated by my mother, who played classic rock and 60s folk revival on the car stereo. She was relentlessly supportive of my interests, which soon came to include Western classical music, and in a few more years, with guidance from my middle and high school band directors, jazz. In 7th grade I formed my first band, playing a few original compositions. I have had the pleasure of leading and writing for ensembles of my own ever since. 

I moved on to Central Michigan University, where I studied with Professors Rob Smith (improvisation) and John Nichol (saxophone), and Dr. José-Luis Maúrtua (composition). I also played in the university's jazz ensembles and had a few of my own on the side. Working as a host at the local public radio station provided access to an extensive music library and the mentorship of Mike Johnston, bass player with the Northwoods Improvisers. Conversations with all these mentors, and listening parties with my friends, helped shape my philosophical approach to creating music. In the course of my studies, I was privileged to perform with Frank Tiberi, Bobby Shew, and the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Since 2013 I have also had the honor to study intermittently with a hero of mine, guitarist and composer Jade Synstelien.

In the chill of winter, January 2016, I moved to Sterling Heights in metro Detroit. Since the move I have had the honor of performing with the Scott Gwinnell Orchestra, the Paul Keller Orchestra, Terry Kimura, Dwight Adams, Marcus Elliot, Davy Lazar, John Douglas, Adam Shead, and many other first-class musicians too numerous to list. I am also pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Michigan with Dr. Andrew Bishop. I am currently a member of the Dr. Prof. Leonard King Orchestra, progressive soul-pop band Paddlebots, and the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble. My current project is the Moving Mind Orchestra, a ten-piece postmodern big band with a repertoire of compositions and arrangements by myself and others in the group. We seek to play music that is genuine in intent and execution.