Shanghai Daily: April 2013

You have great parents who gave you freedom from the beginning of your life, a beautiful wife who is your best friend, as well as two children. Compared to many other musicians, you seem to have a smooth life, but many people believe that great music comes from the ups and downs of life, do you agree with that? Now if you look back at your life, how will you describe it?

Yes, I’m very thankful for my wonderful parents who gave me the freedom of my mind and encouraged me in music. The same for my wife Gayle who, in addition to being a great artist in her own right, has been dedicated by my side for 42 years now. Both our children are musicians and we now have 2 grandsons by my son Thaddeus.

I’m happy that I’m able to accomplish the musical goals I keep setting for myself – one after the next.

It seems to me that creativity comes from a good active imagination rather than from hard times.

You have formed bands with vocal and without vocal, played jazz piano as well as orchestra, could you briefly tell the differences among these kinds of music?

I love to make music in every form possible. I’ve become interested in many traditional forms and have experimented with some hybrid forms. I’m still interested in combining different forms and different ways to present music to audiences.

For you, there seems to be no boundaries among different genres. When you create these follow-your-heart music, have you ever lost and felt confused about what kind of music do you want?

I have always just kept on trying different ways and, in each way, trying to perfect the rendition – technically and emotionally. It’s a daily endeavor – always trying to improve on the last performance or recording – raising the standard each time.

Why do you start to make jazz-fusion? Jazz did begin to change at that time, what triggers that change and what was the music atmosphere at that time?

Jazz and music and everything in life are changing all the time. It seems that that’s the one thing we can count on.

You took jazz-fusion and put electric into jazz, is it because that makes music more powerful and easy to be communicated to the audience, or it is simply more fashion?

Again these experiments are attempts to perfect the music art or to try new ways to communicate. Sound is only the mechanical part of music.

In the 1980s you started Stretch Records, what is the difference between making records for others and making your own? You traveled a lot on the road, how could you balance running your business with traveling on the road?

Stretch Records is still my attempt to fully produce my own records and help other artists present the music that they love the most.

Since I travel most of the time I’ve learned to organize while I travel – it becomes a way of life.

What’s your further plan? Is there any music you want to make but haven’t tried yet?

For me life has just begun. I see so many possible ways to keep life interesting and create music with and for others.