Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I was first introduced to "Big Band" music in the eighth grade. I had been playing clarinet for one year and Pete Fountain was my musical hero. I started playing the tenor sax in my junior high school's stage band and between my junior and senior years of high school, I bought a Martin alto saxophone with the money I earned delivering newspapers in my neighborhood. This wonderful instrument was built one month before I was born.
I played in the University of Tulsa marching and concert bands throughout my college career, including time on baritone sax in the university jazz lab band. My first professional gig was as an 18-year old college student playing in a band very similar to the New Legacy Swing Band (NLSB), on New Year's Eve.
After college, I joined the USAF, navigating F-4 Phantom fighters in Europe and in the Orient, including a few combat sorties in Viet Nam. Following that, I went to pilot training and flew in the T-38, teaching new pilots to fly. I later flew the FB-111 swing-wing fighter/bomber. It's pretty hard to get a clarinet into a small cockpit, and impossible with a saxophone, so my playing was limited to joining in with the Dorsey band via the television on New Year's Eve every now and then.
During a one-year unaccompanied tour in Belgium, I started playing clarinet with the local community band and played my alto sax in a small jazz band. I played nearly every week, at rehearsals and during numerous festivals, concerts and parades. After returning from Belgium, I joined the newly formed Seacoast Wind Ensemble, honing my musical skills. I helped start a woodwind quintet and German band in 1989 and began playing professionally with these groups while still working for the Air Force.
In 1999, I went back to school as a full-time Music Education student at the University of New Hampshire. During my three years at UNH, I played in the Wind Symphony and in the Bratton Hall Jazz Band. I became a music educator and was fortunate to conduct my own middle and high school concert and jazz bands. I really enjoyed teaching the basics of jazz performance and improvisation and often joined in with the students on various instruments. Occasionally filling in with the Little Swing Band (now the NLSB) in the early 2000s, I formally joined the band in 2006.
Currently, I play with the New Legacy Swing Band on bari, tenor and alto saxes, clarinet and flute, depending on the needs of the band. I also rehearse and/or perform with other musical groups, such as the Mad Bavarian Brass Band, Good Mem'ries Band and the Dave Rasmussen Big Band, and continue to manage and perform with my woodwind quintet (Musique du Bois) and German band (Opa's Oompah Band). I also maintain a music lesson studio in Newmarket, New Hampshire and work with music students in local schools in New Hampshire and Maine. Music is my life!