Cracked Ice – When I Found Jazz

Cracked Ice – When I Found Jazz

I have several stories of how and when I found Jazz music, but this particular one seems to stand out more than the rest. Growing up in the late 60s through the 70s, I was a strange kid with strange tastes and although I heard a lot of music that was currently on Pop radio, I seemed to prefer listening to music that happened before my time. 


Old records seemed to fascinate me like time travel, especially the 78s that spun really fast on the record player.


In the summer of 1972, our family drove up to Northern California to visit our cousins who lived in the area where John Sutter discovered gold during the 1800s. One of my parents’ pastimes was browsing antique shops and there seemed to be many in that area at the time, full of artifacts from the gold rush.

One, in particular, had a big stack of 78s which at the time were probably considered junk by the owner. These records couldn’t have been more than 30 years old at that time but they seemed ancient by the nine-year-old me. To my great surprise, the owner offered me the entire lot for only one dollar and I thought I had scored the deal of the century.

Out of the many records in there (which included Gene Ammons, Lester Young, James Moody and more) one in particular really knocked me out, It was a record called Cracked Ice by an alto sax player named Earl Bostic. Mind you, I had no context whatsoever about any of these artists or the music, as it was decades before the internet existed and there was nary a book that mentioned Earl Bostic at the time.


The song itself was a heavy wailin’ instrumental  blues bounce that went in for the kill and held no hostages.

I played Cracked Ice over and over for years until I nearly wore out the grooves. 

Some five years later, I still had a thirst for more of this music but really had no idea where to find it. I knew it was Jazz and that’s about it. 

One evening when I was 14, I visited the public library with my father and went into the record section. This was when you could check actual record albums out from the library and also listen to them on headphones at special listening stations. This was also before anything was digitized and the libraries had drawers upon drawers of physical 3×5 card catalogues in alphabetical order.

There it was. The section of cards that said Saxophone. Maybe there would be an Earl Bostic record in there. No such luck. But there was an album called Gerry’s Time (listen on YouTube) by a sax player named Gerry Mulligan (which I innocently thought was pronounced “Gary”). The librarian put the record on the turntable behind the counter as I put the big white plastic headphones on, waiting to see what this music was going to be.

It opened with a song called “Woody’n You” which I would find out later was quite a famous BeBop standard.

Instantly my life was changed forever, This was a cookin’ album and was my introduction to trumpeter Harry Sweets Edison, bassist Ray Brown, drummer Louie Bellson and guitarist Herb EllisOscar Peterson was also in this all-star aggregation, holding down the piano duties plus Stan Getz (who I knew already via The Girl From Ipanema). 

The guy sitting next to me must’ve thought I was nuts, bobbing my head back and forth, patting my foot frantically, lost in a world of my own.

The following song was called “Candy”, which blew my mind all over again. I checked this album out and made a cassette from it immediately. This was my new soundtrack and I hoped to someday find a vinyl copy, but that took years because this was an obscure album, not to be found in new record shops during that time.

The following year I was shown Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan and John Coltrane, leading me down a decades long rabbit hole of Jazz. 

Ray Bradbury And My Creative Process

Ray Bradbury And My Creative Process

It was time to create another blog installation and nothing was coming immediately to mind until I flashed upon Ray Bradbury and his lists of potential titles for stories. This had been one of his creative M.O.s for years, one that he always mentioned in interviews, lectures, and his book Zen In The Art Of Writing

Ray would often take an idea from a common object in his house like a cookie jar for example, and create a title like “The Curse Of Cracked Cookie Jar”. This would be added onto his list and whenever he would be stumped for a new story idea, he would refer to the list, choose a title, and begin writing. 

I was extremely fortunate to live in Los Angeles when Ray was still alive and well, giving free lectures at book fairs, in-store signings, etc.

There was a very special quality about him that retained the wonderment and magical imagination of a child, a quality cherished by all who crossed paths with him.

One thing that he always stated in his lectures was (to paraphrase), “Write because you love it. The money will follow”.  This is what kept him going for many years before he was a paid and published writer. These words continually resonate in my head pertaining to my music and anything else I tend to create.

We had a special haven of a bookstore in Glendale, California called The Mystery & Imagination Bookshop that lasted for decades but finally fell prey to the gentrification epidemic.

This place was packed to the rafters with new and used books spanning decades, prices ranging from a few bucks up into the hundreds, and specializing in science fiction/fantasy, mystery, the occult, pulp fiction and so much more.

Many famous authors of these idioms passed through those doors over the years as friends of the proprietors and members of this special bookworm community. It was common to spot Ray in there, as well as original Twilight Zone and Star Trek writers George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan, Forrest J. Ackerman et. al.

Without going into a hugely divergent sidebar, Forrest J. Ackerman was one of the most important figures in the world of science fiction and coined the term Sci-Fi. He and Ray Bradbury had been close friends since they were teenagers in the 1930’s, and both attended the very first World Science Fiction Convention at The New York World’s Fair in 1939 (It was basically the world’s very first Comic Con). 


Between the two of them, they had seen it all – from the prevalence of the telephone in peoples homes, to radio, the phonograph, moving pictures, talking  pictures, television, tape recorders, video  tape recorders, the jet airplane, space travel, the internet, cell phones, smart phones and more.


Getting back to The Mystery And Imagination Bookshop, one particular memory that will always stand out for me was a special birthday party for Forrest Ackerman that was held in the store. Unfortunately, Forrest was unable to attend, as by this time he was very frail and bedridden but Ray was there and gave a wonderful speech in loving commemoration to his lifelong friend and peer. This would be Forrest’s last birthday celebration as it turned out. 


There were about 20 of us in attendance altogether.


As Ray cut the birthday cake, I stood next to George Clayton Johnson as the group of us sang Happy Birthday into the store’s computer, with Forrest on the other end of the internet listening from his bedroom This was relatively new technology at the time and for me, I felt such a privilege, honor, and great miracle to take part in this loving moment, knowing that one day it would all be a bittersweet memory – Ray, George, Forrest, the bookshop, and life as I once knew it in Los Angeles.

These days, I choose not to dwell in the past, but to cherish these golden memories and to live in the now, knowing that the now will soon enough be another memory, and so on and so on and so on.

With George Clayton Johnson at Mystery And Imagination shop circa 2015

Cachao – Why I Play The Bass

Cachao – Why I Play The Bass

Most of you know me as a bassist but I am also a guitarist and have actually played the guitar ten years longer than bass.


I began guitar at eight years old and bass at eighteen and now I’m approaching my 40 and 50 year mark on these instruments respectively.

This is an ongoing journey for me, one that is an uphill climb and a bottomless pot of coffee.

My passion and curiosity is what keeps me moving forward with both instruments with regards and respect to the people who taught and mentored me personally and inadvertently.


In my early twenties I was primarily focused on learning Jazz guitar and wasn’t playing much bass until I returned from a visit to New York…


with the record Cuban Jam Sessions In Miniature that a friend of mine gave me. I had already known of Cachao from a different album but had never heard him as a bandleader. This album blew me away and in no time at all, my guitar was put down and my bass was back in my hands. Thus began my journey into Afro Cuban bass playing in 1987.


Flash forward to now, and I have nearly 35 years behind me in the idiom and journey, and have had the great privilege of meeting, working with and knowing many iconic musicians and pioneers of this genre, most of which are now no longer here.


If you’ve never heard this album, it’s a masterpiece, considered a “desert island disc” and recorded in only two afternoons in Havana, Cuba,1957.

This is part of a five record series called Cuban Jam Sessions which was recently remastered and re-released in all its glory, as CDs, vinyl, and downloads. Back in the late 80s/early 90s the only consistent source for me to find these types of records was from a special record shop in the Times Square subway station which I recently found out has closed due to the pandemic after 62 years in business. Whenever I visited Manhattan from my home in L.A., that shop was at the top of my list.

I can’t say enough about how Cachao’s music and bass playing has influenced me and how deeply grateful I am to have been in his company on so many occasions, at rehearsals, concerts, recording sessions etc.

Do yourself a favor and add this album to your collection if you haven’t already.

Ciao For Now & See You On The Flip Side,


My Bob Dorough Radio Tribute

My Bob Dorough Radio Tribute

When Bob Dorough left the planet in 2018, he left behind a musical legacy and career spanning eight decades. He had a long run and finally cut out at 94 years young. If you grew up in the ’70s or had children back then, you would most likely be familiar with Bob Dorough from the Schoolhouse Rock! animated television series that showed every Saturday morning for years.

The series also featured singers such as Blossom Dearie, Jack Sheldon, and Dave Frishberg performing Bob’s compositions. Decades later he would perform entire Schoolhouse Rock shows in the nightclub circuit. But aside from this aspect of his career, Bob Dorough had many other sides and worked with other iconic artists such as Miles Davis for example.

I had the great pleasure of having many conversations with Bob over the years at his shows and we shared some very dear friends in common.

It was always a special treat to see him perform and I found it only fitting to make a special radio tribute in honor of his passing, his great life adventure and musical contribution. 

Just recently I came across the recording of that show and uploaded it to my MixCloud page for everyone to dig.

You can find the link Here.


My Reggae Podclash Episode!

My Reggae Podclash Episode!

I was recently selected by The Reggae Podclash to do an extensive interview about my involvement with the revival of traditional Jamaican music, namely Ska, and the circumstances surrounding how I became involved in this nearly 40 years ago.

It was a great honour for me, as the Podclash typically interviews the foundational Jamaican artists of Ska, Rocksteady, and Reggae such as Ken Boothe, Soul Syndicate, Wailing Souls, Johnny Clarke, Freddie McGregor, et al. and they included me for their roster of pertinent artists and contributors in these genres.

Here’s The Link To The Archived Episode. My interview begins 34 minutes in, but I recommend you watch the whole episode because the hosts Roger Rivas (of The Aggrolites) and Devin Morrison (of The Expanders) play some great tunes in the beginning and give great insight into the roots and history of Reggae music.

Ciao For Now,