Oddly enough, I started on accordion at the age of 7; two years later I picked up the tenor sax. Along the way, I've messed around with various sundry other instruments: bassoon, clarinet, flute, tenor and bass recorder, some krumhorns, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, acoustic bass, probably more.
James Dowd was my first serious mentor, and of course I'd be greatly amiss if I didn't mention my parents, who forced me to practice everyday when sometimes I wanted to be out playing with the neighborhood gang of kids. Growing up at Lower Chateaugay Lake, in the northern Adirondack region of New York was awesome. While we weren't necessarily bad kids, the temptation and opportunity for trouble was certainly there. My parents certainly put a great many miles driving me to various lessons, which I'm thankful for, considering how rough the winters were back then.
As a teen, I played with the Strawhatters Band during the summer, consisting of people from all the north country. We'd play parades, concerts, winding up every year with a grand party on Rouses Point. We didn't break too many laws back then...
Growing up near the border, we were cut off from most of the media: no cable TV, so we only received two American stations. Everything else came from Canada, with Montreal being the closest city. I listened to "underground" FM back then: Johnny Winter, Led Zeppelin, Mott the Hoople, Genesis, The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Pink Floyd were among the earliest influences I had exposure to.
Our first band was called Orlyc: I played my Cordovox Accordion on top of a Rhodes Piano; Jack Nemier was the singer; Don Cook played guitar; Shaughn Dowd played flute; Bob Loffler played bass; Dale Walton played drums. We played a mixture of progressive rock, and blues-oriented rock and roll.
I joined the Navy Band right out of high school, going to boot camp when I was 17. My first duty station was Guam, where I lived for a year and half. Most of us were 21 or under; one of the older members was Walter Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix's first cousin). Walt had a collection of bebop LPs: Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, John Coltrane, Miles Davis... amazing stuff that I'd never heard before. Everyone was into a lot of different things, but collectively as a group we were into the 1970's fusion of rock and jazz that was so prevalent. I started arranging different things for the big band, like Jeff Beck's version of 'Superstition'. We also had a fusion band, in which we played Weather Report, Billy Cobham, Robin Trower for this Chow Hall gig...
My next duty station was Norfolk, Virginia. I played bassoon for a bit, sax in the ceremonial band as well as this rock band where we picked up a lot of gigs over the holiday season. In January I was sent to the Showband, and went on the big cruise to South America and the Caribbean with UNITAS. It was literally life on the road in a rock and roll band, and probably the less I say about those times, the better. It was wild, to say the least. I've lost contact with most of those fantastic musicians and friends; if any of you're out there, contact me!
I taught music theory, composition, aural skills, electronic music studio, and such, at the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL, and Miami University in Oxford, OH.
As performer, I've played the sax in all the usual saxophone situations: jazz ensembles, combos, rock bands, saxophone groups, etc. At Potsdam, the most memorable stints were 2 years with the Crane Saxophone Quartet (1986-88); I played the baritone saxophone in that group. Additionally, I performed a lot of improv stuff in Paul Steinberg' Contemporary Music Ensemble. At the University of Illinois, any live performing I did was with Mark Zanter (guitar); during this period I only was performing on EWI (electronic wind instrument).
I've always been fascinated with electronic music, synthesizers; it was probably natural for me to become involved in music composition. I've studied with Paul Steinberg, who got me started; Elliott DelBorgo, Roger Davis, Morgan Powell, Paul Zonn, and Jack Melby. Two others deserve special mention: James Sheppard was quite influential, allowing me to explore a lot of non-western ideas.
However, it was Salvatore Martirano who remains my biggest influence. He was a mentor as well as a close friend. Strangely enough, I'd never heard of him until I ran into Dan Senn at an Electronic Music Plus festival. Dan suggested I study with him; I was already into algorithmic composition. Sal shared many fascinating things with me during the final years of his life.
Most of music is quite experimental; my current research involves allowing various systems (sometimes conflicting aesthetically with one another) to interact within a computer program I've developed in a software language initially developed at IRCAM called MAX (Puckette, Zicarelli) called HUNSMIRE (1992-2000). Some of the little games I play utilize aspects of serialism, chaos, fractals, as well as various ways to interfere with the system. As Sal used to say, 'What do you do when you get sick of what's happening... you need a way to interfere with it somehow.' As a performer, HUNSMIRE allows me to interact in 'real-time' with whatever the computer's doing. Or not.
During my 4-year stay in Branson (1995-99) I performed with two primary bands: The Blues Patrol, with Jack Pribeck and Stevie Ray Duncan (Southern Fried founder), and Big Daddy and the Macs. The latter project involved a revolving door of various talent consisting of some of the best musicians in the Branson area, including Messrs. Pribeck and Duncan.
Also while in Branson, I played sax with the "Cajun Connection" featuring Cedric Benoit (with ex-Outlaws drummer Monte Yoho) while they played on the Showboat Branson Belle.
In November-December I performed with The Boneyard Blues Band, again, playing sax.
I'm now updating my electronic music studio, conducting new research, composing a work for big band, and working on the Chateaugay Lake Museum of Natural History (in memory of Sal).