When I compose music I am often motivated by some personal experience. For the first five songs below, I explain what inspired the composition.
I recently completed a jazz suite in tribute to Aaron Copland, one of my favorite 20th century composers. He was a guest conductor of our DePauw University Orchestra in 1971. He had a unique ability to take an American tradition such as the rodeo and showcase it to the world through his music. This jazz suite composition features several themes which I’ve appreciated as part of the human experience: Sunrise, Celebration, Serenity, Joy, Intrigue, and Sunset.
One of my passions is wildlife conservation and on a trip with Conservation International to the rainforest in Guatamala, we discovered a lovely stream which was so inviting that Joyce and I were compelled to float along through a small village.
I often write songs about musicians who inspire me: this tune is dedicated to Herbie Hancock.
I’ve always admired Joe Sample’s funky chordal style; I wrote this as a tribute to him.
Bill Evans was known for his melodies, chords and his aptitude to play 4 beats against 3, or a melody in one key and chords in another. I love his style!
My piano in Orlando looks out over beautiful and stately cypress trees; they give me a feeling of joy and solace.
I have often conveyed these Lessons Extracted from Jazz in live performances with my band. Originally, as the President of Disney’s Theme Parks and Resorts, I created a lecture designed to share leadership and creativity principles with our management teams. Later I was often asked to share variations of this lecture with external organizations who heard about this via the Disney Institute. Here is one such performance for the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) at their annual conference in 1999.