Originally, I wanted to play piano. But my friend in junior high got a guitar one year, and I thought "well, this seems like fun too." My first guitar teacher, Dave Clo, was awesome and I credit him with nurturing my budding passion for music. Music had always been fascinating and compelling to me, but it had seemed mysterious and inaccessible. Dave also introduced me to jazz, and the idea that one could be a professional musician (a hitherto altogether alien concept), which was reckless and negligent behavior but the damage is done so I forgive him.
Somehow after a scant few years trying to learn every Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath song I had inadvertently become enamored of Thelonious Monk's music and learned a handful of his tunes, a couple Parker tunes and a few standards, which resulted in my arrival at music school in New Orleans in what I soon realized was rather spectacularly unprepared condition for pursuing a jazz degree. Nonetheless, I managed somehow get enough competency to graduate, largely due to the incredibly vital and inspiring jazz community in 1990s New Orleans and a lackluster social calendar that allowed me to spend 6-8 hours a day practicing (aka trying to figure out what the hell I was doing). The next several years helped me really learn a lot about playing jazz, from playing on the bandstand with seasoned professionals who kept calling tunes I didn't know and had to figure out on the spot. Around 2001 I had the bright idea to see if I could take some classes at the University of New Orleans, since Steve Masakowski and Ed Petersen were there (both fantastic musicians and teachers). Through what I can only imagine was a clerical error, I ended up being offered a full scholarship to pursue a Master's degree, an experience that was incredibly illuminating as a musician, largely due to the inspiring teaching by Masakowski and Petersen.
Somewhere in this process, I had started learning the Arabic oud, and this helped motivate me to move to New York, where I felt I could learn from and collaborate with members of the Arabic music community as well as further pursue my love of jazz. So after a brief stint teaching at a local community college, I moved to Brooklyn in 2003.
Over the past 15+ years, I've been lucky to play guitar and oud alongside some great musicians from the jazz world, traditional Arabic music, and everywhere in between.