Primary School Petit Bernard (Dijon, France)

1) Where are you coming from ?

I am from Fort Worth, Texas. My family is from Louisiana. After high school graduation I went to study music in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with Alvin Batiste. After graduating in 1999 / 2000, I moved to Chicago. This is where I played and experimented with many styles. I also spent a lot of time trying learn how to play what I was hearing at the Velvet Lounge with Fred Anderson. This is where I performed with many other musicians of the AACM. I became a member 2010. I still live in Chicago.

2) How did you meet ?

I met Alexander of the Bridge at the Velvet Lounge. I met everybody in Chicago. I met Makaya at a jam session I believe. I met Stéphane and Edward in Chicago at the first collaboration of the Bridge at the MCA in 2010. 

3) What is the reason why you became a musician ?

I have always been attracted to sound.  My grandma used to sing when she cooked. I used to listen. When I first heard Charlie Parker,  Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, I fell in love with improvisation and the saxophone. I knew at this time I wanted to play music forever. I was twelve (12). 

4) How did you learn playing music ?

I had really cool music teachers that recognized that I had a talent for music. so they would help me by giving me materials when they saw my potential. They always made opportunities for me to play.  

5) How did you become a professional musician ?

To be professional just means you get paid. 

6) Do you have another job ?

Yes I’m a music teacher and band director.

7) How did you end up playing jazz music ?

I always liked learning how to play pop songs off of the radio. I liked the challenge. When Jazz was introduced to me I met the ultimate challenge. I felt the same way when classical music was introduced to me. I still like and respect the technical challenges of both. 

8) How did you discover jazz ? My 7th grade teacher Brian Standridge saw that I could memorize solos off of the radio.  He gave me a Charlie Parker Omni book and all of the Savoy recordings of Charlie Parker.  I spent a whole summer learning his music. 

9) What is your favorite type of jazz ?

I like them all 

10) Do you perform all around the world ?


11) Are you afraid when you perform?

I used to get nervous, but not anymore. If I feel anxious I relax my mind and talk three deep breathes and exhale slowly. In through the nose out of mouth. 

12) How do you improvise ?

After you learn all the theory and tunes. Solos, scales, modes, etc. I try to think about simple things like the progressions, melody, call and response, tension and release. Communicating with the other musicians and instruments is the key for me. I believe if you focus “the music will always tell you what to play”. The question is can you respond or anticipate in time. This is why we practice on the fundamentals of our instruments and the style of the music in which you are playing. 

13) Did compose music and/or songs (lyrics) ?

Yes I compose all the time. Actually that is what improvisation is, composition in real time. 

14) “The Bridge”, why this name ?

Because a bridge is something used to connect worlds or whatever’s being connected. I think the name is perfect.