Born in New Jersey and raised his entire life in the beautiful warm island of Puerto Rico, I started my interest for the flute at age 14. Being from a musical family where my dad played the piano, my mom singed and my older brother played the saxophone I decided to learn the flute and play at church with them. Although my “classical” training did not start until I was a senior in high school, I was exposed to learning songs by ear in church and by playing jazz/pop arrangements in the high school bands, making the switch was “easy” considering that I auditioned with a Handel Sonata which I had almost memorized by ear and I knew all my scales thanks to the improvisation that I was exposed to in band.
During my development as a classical flute player in the Conservatory of Music in P.R. the influences of both worlds (jazz and classical) was evident in my playing and there so, I decided to start exploring what really made me happy as a human being without letting go of the academic discipline.
Tell us about your current project (what inspired you, how did you get it off the ground, etc.).
During my years of undergrad I got the chance to share the stage with great and talented musicians from all genres, and two of those gifted musicians I met became my best friends. One of them, a extraordinary guitar player named Feliche Del Valle decided to collaborate together with me trying to explore the great blend that the guitar and flute possess. Influence of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic harmonies and colors mixed with our characters is what created the essence of a project called Zohet that will be coming out really soon. In the process of producing, my friend and superstar flute player José Valentino enhanced the duo concept with world percussion, sax, bass and a lot of groove.
This project is inspired in the Creator and in the need of instrumental music to feed the soul. The musical level of this project is unquestionable and all the effort is reflected in each song. This is a project that was recorded without any budget and was made out of love, passion and belief in our music.
What advice would you give to upcoming professionals (especially someone in your focus area)?
The advice I would give to my flute friends and colleagues out there are the following: BE A FLUTE PLAYER. Don’t try to put your self inside of a bubble with a name in order to fall into a standard category, just play the flute.
Explore everything, ethnic flute music from different countries, different genres that have flute and even the ones don’t have flute in it. In the process of exploration you will discover a special affinity with a certain style, that’s the cue that you are going in the right way.
How do you keep motivated with your work, and how do you manage your time?
I haven’t heard a single flute player that has said to me that playing Taffanel 1,4 and 10 daily exercises are the best thing that has happened in their life and that they will live happily ever after.
There will always be a point in our careers that we need to keep things fresh, find inspiration and/or motivation.
I find motivation in different ways and I am going to tell you my top 3 options:
1) Discovering new musicians on Internet. Talented people are all around the world and sometimes I find that the push I need to kick-start my week is to listen to some amazing singer, violin player, pianist and so on. If I am working on a piece I will just find a performance that I like of it and I replay it a few times, is always good to listen to different point of views.
2) Change your metronome! Sometimes I find the click annoying by itself and honestly, uninspiring. I just put Pandora, Spotify or Youtube and look for the songs I want to hear and make me happy and do scales in the key of the song. Is like having your own custom play along track. The drums or the beat will be your metronome and the harmonies will be the reference to check intonation. I find this to be the most effective way of starting a warm-up with all bases covered.
3) This might be the most important for me, and I play the videos of the artist I admire, the ones I relate to and that I see myself following their footsteps. I do this on a regular basis during the day to remind myself that I need to work hard. My time during the day will be practicing for a session and then put some music to relax while I stretch, read an article study. Then I might compose a little and then go back to practice. Of course, there is a lot of eating and coffee in between these stages (hahaha)
Anything exciting on the horizon?
I was recently accepted in the DMA program of Stony Brook as a hybrid student with Carol Wincenc in flute and Ray Anderson in jazz. I was awarded an assistantship as well. I am really excited about this opportunity to refine my skills in flute playing but also exploring my composition abilities and get my voice, my music out there. Besides the Zohet project, there is a future project with original arrangements and compositions that will be recorded for different instrumentation (flute choirs are included!) Also, there are some video tutorials coming soon for Trevor James that I will explaining in details Extended techniques to play pieces like Zoomtube and The great train Race.