My sound and approach was birthed and nurtured by Detroit’s jazz community. Serendipitous encounters with unselfish and encouraging teachers granted me access to a body of wisdom that profoundly influenced my trajectory. They taught me that the art of listening can be a deeply compassionate act — that by cultivating empathetic ears, I could simultaneously cultivate a worldview that would always make room for the viewpoints and perspectives of others.
In the spirit of that worldview, each new composition of mine is a question of some sort. And each improvisation posits a potential answer, reinventing the question with each new performance. My music asks questions about the politics of hearing, and about structural hierarchy. Can a compositional environment encourage a panoply of voices to speak and be heard? Is it possible to create improvisational structures which allow for the nonhierarchical coexistence of equal voices?
Pianistically, I often play with these questions by positioning my two hands against each other, casting them either as rivals that playfully antagonize each other, or as friendly companions who support each other’s inquisitive endeavors. Compositionally, I can map these aesthetics to an ensemble, which might consist of a group of musicians, but might also take the form of an interdisciplinary collaboration. I believe that by modeling this ethos of inclusiveness in my music, I can work toward manifesting it in the world.
As a composer and pianist, compassionate listening is the compass through which I navigate all of my artistic territory, and the uniting force behind my wide range of activities. I strive to cultivate a sense that empathy is important at an existential, parasympathetic, foundational level. I want my ears to always say yes; to have a voracious appetite for the world around them, and to have the ability to think creatively about how to find solutions to problems that manifest on stage or in society. Above all, I aim to always maintain the sympathetic sensitivity that fuels my practice.