The Seattle Times

As sophisticated as your playing becomes harmonically or rhythmically, you always seem to maintain a sense of childlike wonder. What’s the key to keeping that youthful spirit alive?

Oh, I don’t know, so many things contribute – all positive. I try to stay in good health and continue to play the music that I love. I like the good old Golden Rule too – it works. I try to treat others as I would like to be treated myself.

Is your repertoire with Carlitos and Marcus similar to the trio recording with Brian Blade and Christian McBride? Or do you also perform tunes you do with Carlitos and Marcus in Vigil?

The set list is always a work in progress. With Carlitos and Marcus, we’ll pick it up where we left it last time, then begin to add some new things that I’ve been fooling around with. I’m sure they will come up with some new ideas is as well. It’s always an Adventure – – never totally knowing how it will go down.

How did you hook up with Carlitos Del Puerto and what do you like most about playing with him?

Carlitos and I have now been playing together for more than five years. I first learned about him when my friend Stanley Clarke told me to check him out. It proved to be a great tip! He’s amazing!

Ditto for Roy Haynes’ grandson Marcus Gilmore. You’ve come full circle from Roy to Marcus! Can we look forward to an album by this trio?

Marcus was a young marvel from when I first heard him play when he was 14 years old. I’m sure it was great for him growing up by his amazing granddad’s side, but he sure has developed his own original sound!

Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is one of the great piano trio albums of all time. Who have been the important players for you in the piano trio lineage?

Hmm, that’s an interesting list – – off the top of my head: Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner. All had great trios, and all gave me great inspiration – and still do!

Your 2016 & 2017 was a marathon. What drives you to keep moving through so much territory – musical and geographical?

It’s a very fulfilling life to be able to make the music I love and bring smiles and pleasure to audiences everywhere.

I’ll be on the Blue Note at Sea cruise. How do you like the cruise experience? Is it possible to get away from the crowds, or do you enjoy mixing with the fans?

I’ve never played a “jazz cruise” before. I’m looking forward to it. I hear that many of my friends will be there.

Will you be mixing it up with electric and acoustic keyboards at Jazz Alley? And, if so, what prompts your preferences in electric keyboards?

For this outing I’m looking forward to the simplicity of playing just the piano with no electronics – – it leaves more time to devote to the idea and the creation. Often with electric instruments, as much as I love them, they take so much care and attention and programming to be able to get the sounds and articulation out of them that pleases me that I can lose focus and wander. Well, that can be fun too . . .

As you’ve matured, what’s become musically easier and/or more difficult?

Haha – – Everything seems easier for some reason 🙂 I guess I keep working things out – one at a time 🙂

You are one of perhaps a score of jazz musicians who can fill a theater today. Any thoughts about why there are so few others who can do that in jazz now?

I could make some guesses – – all probably giving no help to anyone. I believe we can create whatever we want to create if we don’t let ourselves be stopped by the barriers. That’s probably the major challenge and also fun of life – – having something you want to accomplish and then going on to accomplish it despite all barriers. Gotta be willing to win or lose, though – – like, be nonchalant about winning or losing – – just love the game.

Thanks for your questions – – Looking forward to playing Jazz Alley again!

Happy New Year to you and all the readers,