Drums & Percussion * Music Instruction
Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Robert's interest in music and performing came naturally and took on a life of it's own at a very young age through listening to pop record 45 singles given to him by his father and imitating voices and characters he saw on television, followed by singing along with his records while trying to accompany himself on bongos. He played trumpet in elementary and jr. high band and took private drum set lessons at Amendola Music in Inglewood, CA throughout jr. high and high school with Kay Carlson, a firmly established and award-winning percussion instructor.
Robert gained experience during his high school years in Culver City, wherever he could; playing in rock bands, the school stage band (which did two recordings), yearly school musicals, marching bands and also did gigs on weekends with The Fabulous Esquires www.esquires.org a big band made up of students and semi-pros that rehearsed and played swing era classic charts at dances all over the Greater Los Angeles area in hotels, Elk's Lodges etc.
Robert earned a BA in Communication with Minors in Music Performance & General Science with honors in 1990 from the University of California at San Diego. At UCSD, Robert was very active in the music department while also working as a professional musician in San Diego, gaining more experience playing large and small group jazz, world music styles, funk, blues, rhythm and blues, percussion ensemble, studying timpani, as well as some classical new music. He was awarded a generous scholarship from the Lower Southern California Jazz Society through UCSD Professor Jimmy Cheatham, an encouraging mentor figure. He got to play with some great artists while living in San Diego including Kevin Flournoy, Tony Ortega, Daniel Jackson, Holly Hoffman and many more. Robert had notable collaborations in San Diego playing and recording with Eric Keeling, with "Strum, Thump & Wail" (Susannah Martin and Joey Carano) and also briefly in a nice trio with Joey and Rob Thorsen.
After traveling to Alaska, South America and the Caribbean on cruise ships performing nightly with a piano trio with bassist Steve Smith and pianist Lisa Miller for a year and a half, Robert returned to Los Angeles where he eventually became active in the jazz scene there, playing with many great artists and as a member of the Cecilia Coleman Quintet (with Steve Huffsteder, Gerry Pinter and Christoph Luty) for a year prior to moving to New York City. That band performed in local jazz festivals and in clubs throughout California and was a finalist in Grover Washington Jr.'s Hennessey Jazz Search, earning the honor to perform at the contest finals at the Life Club in NYC in October of 1997, broadcast live on WBGO 88.1.
Also during this time in L.A., Robert worked regularly with vocalists Gina Eckstine and Sandra Booker, pianists Jon Mayer, Paul Astin, and Chris Dawson, guitarists Chuck Jennings and John Ehlis, bassists Danton Boller, Bob Maize, Henry Franklin, Putter Smith, Jeff Littleton, Zoltan Dekany and Darek Oles, saxophonists Jon Whinnery, Matt Zebley and David Sills, trumpeter Ron Stout (with various bands), and Gilbert Castellanos in San Diego, and an organ trio with Joe Bagg & Steve Cotter and others as well. Robert got to perform in bands that had as guests sax legends Bill Perkins (at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach) and Red Holloway (at the Hermosa Beach Jazz Festival ), and Bob Kindred. Robert would sit in with guitarist Ron Eschete at his hotel gig in Santa Monica. Robert had the opportunity to take a lesson with incredible drummers Joe LaBarbera and Michael Carvin (in NYC), several with the great Jeff Hamilton, and also regularly attended drum workshops at the World Stage in Leimert Park led by the wonderful Billy Higgins, who was a big influence. Instruction & advice from these musicians and interaction with others was very important in helping Robert gain the skills, inspiration and some of the knowledge necessary to begin his journey of making contributions to various groups, gain working experience and be a part of many performances throughout the west coast. In 1998, Robert fulfilled a long-time desire by moving to New York City.
Since living in NY, Robert has enjoyed numerous playing opportunities in various music genres, and done some touring and recording. Highlights include performing at the Texaco Jazz Festival, the Hartford International Jazz Festival, the 55 bar, Joe's Pub, Birdland Jazz Club, St. Peter's Church, on air on the NBC show, "Today in New York", on NY1 News, live on air on WFUV FM from Bennett Studios, as well as appearing at many other music venues, restaurants and private functions in New York. Abroad, he has performed at the Reignwood Theatre in Beijing, China and at Bazbar in St. Barth. Some of the musicians he has been able to perform with in NY, in additon to those on recorded samples include Bill Crow, Lincoln Goines, Kenny Davis, John Tchicai, Perry Robinson, Eri Yamamoto Trio, Earl Rose, Arthur Kell, the Jon Menges Quartet, Kyoko Oyobe, Lori Bell, Richie Vitale, Charles Sibirsky, Iris Ornig, Enrique Haneine, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the bands Dave's True Story, Hazmat Modine, Maura Fogarty, Libby Johnson, Milton and many more. He has recorded music for television written by Earl Rose, most notably, "The Presidents" on the History Channel, "American Masters: Johnny Carson, King of Late Night" on PBS, and for Turner Classic Movies. In addition, Robert was a teaching artist of music from 2002 to 2006, having taught either recorder, general music or band to elementary level students in fourteen different schools in the NYC public school system. He currently teaches privately and is a regular percussion instructor at William Alexander Middle School in Brooklyn helping mostly with their after-school jazz band.