NBJP: What’s the worst job you ever had?
CT: To be quite honest, I don’t think I ever had a terrible job, fortunately. I always look at negative situations as “how can you make the most/best out of it?” and I just do it. I can say the most painstaking/tedious job I ever had was transcribing a big band chart from a recording by ear…all 18 parts. I didn’t sleep and stared at a computer for 2 days straight. I had never done a big band transcription before that but I finished it and it came out great.
NBJP: Who’s your favorite jazz performer?
CT: Betty Carter. She could sing the newspaper to you and you would still be in awe. Her interpretation of melodies and her phrasing was just incomparable and unique. In her performances she had command, strength, finesse and executed her performances with such confidence and freedom. She could just draw you in instantly.
NBJP: What inspires you creatively?
CT: Life experiences, childhood memories, society, nature…any and every kind of interaction with the environment/people around me inspires me creatively. That’s how it was for many of the greats; Charles Mingus, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone. Their canvas was the society that lived around them. Their music was a way for them to show everyone their view of the world, through their eyes; being an inspiration/ positive & reflective thinker and innovator to society. I hope and aspire to do the same.
NBJP: If you could only own one CD, what would it be?
CT: Oh man, this is a toughy…I would have to say Blues and the Abstract Truth. I love Oliver Nelson’s compositions and arrangements. All of the tunes and players on that album were killin’ and swingin’. The concept of the whole album was around the blues. You can never get enough of the blues.
NBJP: What’s one liquid (other than water) we’d ALWAYS find in your refrigerator?
CT: Plum wine. It’s my favorite wine and it’s purple (my favorite color) …well some varieties are purple.
NBJP: Who’s your favorite singer?
CT: Sarah Vaughan, hands down. She had the voice of an angel, but I do check out other singers in other genres. I would say Chaka Kahn. She’s powerful and fierce. I grew up hearing her played in my house as a kid. Her and Sarah’s voice range was so wide, they could do anything. I would spend hours as a kid jumping on my bed in front of the mirror belting out their high and low notes.
NBJP: What word or phrase do you overuse?
CT: “Killin’ ” aka awesomeness.
PLUS ONE: When did you know you wanted to be a jazz musician?
CT: When I first heard Dexter Gordon’s “GO” album in my jazz listening camp class. I was 14 and I heard him playing over “Second Balcony Jump”. His sound was so full, big and rich…you could instantly know who that was just from hearing one note. His freedom and creativity with his lines just inspired me to learn the language. It was swingin’ so hard, you just couldn’t deny it. It was as if he was soaring high when he played and I wanted to do that too.