“I was introduced to Jazz at a young age…”
There were three of us, my two older brothers and myself. We all learned music growing up. It really wasn’t a choice because our parents made us do it. It’s just how it was and we all did pretty well with music.
When my brothers went off to college they were exposed to some really great Jazz and they brought it home with them on break. It is because of them that I discovered a love for Jazz. I found myself listening to Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and Gene Harris all the time and wanting to play Jazz as much as I could.
Although I played trumpet and also violin, my preferred instrument for Jazz was piano. When I was fourteen I started playing piano with the evening big band at the local community college. There I had a great teacher who gave me Jazz piano lessons and I loved it. It was when I was sixteen that my school district went on strike for an extended period of time. So I dropped out of high school and enrolled in Edmonds Community College full time, pursuing music while completing my high school diploma and an AA degree.
A few years later when I was nineteen I produced my first trio album entitled “A New Meaning”. It was my master plan to launch my musical career. I gave my CD to someone I met from KPLU 88.5, the local Jazz radio station, and somehow my CD ended up on their regular play rotation. Well, at least one of the songs, “Die Augen” was played a lot. I was off and running trying to get gigs and start making a living playing Jazz. Well, that didn’t work out so well.
“There is this thing called making a living…”
I discovered that there were many things about being a Jazz musician that I didn’t enjoy at that time. It was hard to get enough gigs to pay the bills. I was under age and couldn’t hang out at bars to get my turn to sit in at jam sessions. There were not that many venues supporting live jazz around town. Plus, many of the gigs that I did get, I didn’t enjoy playing. And when you need to pay the bills it’s pretty foolish to be so picky. I also found teaching difficult. At twenty years old, it was hard to establish enough credibility to build a studio of students and I really only wanted to teach Jazz. That was also pretty foolish. The result is that I stopped pursuing music to pay bills. But that’s just it. I was pretty busy and I pretty much stopped playing music altogether. I just pursued other things to pay the bills and I started telling myself…
“Someday I’ll open my own Jazz club. “
Eventually my career plans lead me into sales and then into telecom, and eventually finding myself in the middle of the dot com bubble. In 1999 I started a software business that had some early successes as well as many downs. Along the way I never stopped listening to Jazz. My album sat on the shelf and I started embellishing on the story I started telling myself…
“Someday I’ll sell my software company and start a Jazz club.”
Well, that business had good years and bad years. During one of the good years, I finally bought a piano. It was a 1929 Steinway Model B. I started playing piano at home again.
Our realtor had taken note of my interest in Jazz when we needed to find a house that could fit a grand piano. I told him my “someday, when I sell my software company I’ll start a jazz club” story.
Well, as fate would have it, he didn’t forget my story. And about two years later he asked me the fateful question. “Were you serious about the Jazz club thing?” I said yes, of course. And he retorted with, “what if you never sell your software business?” That had never occurred to me before.
He had a suggestion, “you could probably buy that restaurant across the street for a song.” Well, it wasn’t a song. But that’s what we did. I took my salary and put down a payment on buying that place. Sold some stock, borrowed some money and the next thing you know, we owned a restaurant.