ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIAN? CAN YOU HELP EXPLAIN SOME OF THE PROCESS THAT YOU WENT THROUGH TO HAVE THE SUCCESS THAT YOU HAVE HAD IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS?
Practice, and aspire to be great players….not just “good enough,” but great! My desire was just to practice and try to play the best I could whenever the opportunity presented itself. I was always very versatile in the styles of jazz I could play, so it made me a little more in demand as a touring/studio musician. This helped to bring more attention my way in the long run. My only desire was to be the best “jazz” sax player I could be. Although I never feel like I will be I still practice to achieve greatness as a “jazz” sax player.
WHAT PARTS OF YOUR PERSONALITY HAVE YOU FOUND TO BENEFIT YOU AS PART OF NETWORKING AND TOWARDS THE GROWTH OF YOUR CAREER? ARE THESE TRAITS THAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS HAD OR ARE THEY LEARNED CHARACTERISTICS?
I’ve always been very personable. I’ve found that in this business it is not how well you play sometimes, but how much you are liked. I’ve always been a people person, although in my later years I tend to desire a lot more privacy. But when I am out in public, or performing my natural tendency to socialize plays a large role in my stage presence. On stage I just talk as if I’m talking to a group of friends. I like to make people laugh, and I have a tendency to be a slight bit comical on stage. I feel once you warm your audience up with laughter, the rest is academic.
DO YOU ENJOY BEING ON THE ROAD?
WHAT PERFORMANCE SETTINGS DO YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE IN – LARGE CONCERTS, FESTIVALS, SMALL CLUBS, ETC.?
All the above. I enjoy playing in clubs for small intimate audiences where you can see everyone and it’s more personal. I enjoy the rush of the big stage as well as the challenge of entertaining a large audience. I sometimes dislike summer outdoor gigs, but only because I’m not a fan of hot weather.
DO YOU WRITE MUSIC? WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FOR THE MUSIC THAT YOU WRITE?
Yes. I get inspiration from God. I know people like to hear the story behind a song, but most of the times I write because the songs are in my head. I find not having to lean on outside inspiration very liberating. But I do love the moments when some external source inspires a song, I just don’t rely on it. I write songs because I can, and it’s what God has enabled me to do.
WHO DID YOU STUDY WITH?
I went to North Texas State, and the closest I came to lessons was listening to great players around me practice everyday.
YOUR INFLUENCES- HOW DID THEY HELP SHAPE YOU AS A PERSON OR YOUR PLAYING?
Mainly as a player I had a host of influences from Stanley Turrentine, Dexter Gordon, Grover Washington, Jr., John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Michael Brecker, David Sanborn…. to my constituents like Gerald Albright, Kenny Garrett, Branford Marsalis, Najee etc… I have always been able to hear and play what other players do which helped me to build a library of cliche’s to draw from in my playing. I would then take what I learn from other players and eventually use it in a way that was more natural for me. It would take time for me to make it more mine, but in building that repetoire I was able to start thinking independently my approach to a solo, and not just mimic someone else’s solo.
ANY NEW PROJECTS COMING UP?
New cd just released on May 23rd. #1 Billboard Smooth Jazz charts the first week out. It is entitled “In The Moment”. (This was from when the interview was conducted in 2006. He more recently released “My Inspiration” in 2008.)
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS MUSICALLY FOR THE FUTURE?
To play more mainstream jazz. I really desire to go back to my roots and play more straight ahead at one point. That’s not to say that I would in any way abandon my more contemporary music. I love it all.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CONTINUE DOING MUSIC?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU DID BEFORE YOUR MUSIC CAREER AS A PERFORMER BECAME AS SUCCESSFUL AS IT IS TODAY?
I worked my way through High School, and College at Jack In The Box, and in as a manager of an Italian Restaurant respectively. I was an associate accountant for six months after I finished school.
WHAT WAS YOUR COOLEST OR MOST MEMORABLE GIG?
Hard to pick just one, but if I had to I’d say playing the presidential inaugural ball for and with President Bill Clinton, and being in photos all over the world with him just from that moment. What was your worst? That would be falling off the stage at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas.
I love golf!!!!!
FAVORITE JOKE ABOUT YOUR INSTRUMENT:
A man once noted at the immense amount of force I put through my horn and summed it up by saying, “Man, you’re going to blow the curve out of that thing!!!”
Akai, Guardala Horns, Rico Reeds
LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION:
everetteharp.com – it’s all there!