Special Thanks

In Memory of Millie and Frank

The Drummer Loves Ballads is dedicated to the memory of my parents, both of whom passed away while the album was in production. Fortunately, they were able to hear a few of the rough tracks from the first session as well as an early mix of “At the Trocadero,” which I wrote for them. The spoken word intro for that tune has become especially poignant because they were alive when I recorded it and I spoke of them in the present tense. It freezes for me that peculiar characteristic of grief where your loved ones seem both here and gone all at the same time.

Thank you, mom and dad, for being my first fans, for playing good music in the house, for the lessons and for the drums, for tolerating all those years of my practice noise, and for crying with me when you heard the first rough cuts of the album. In my mind, Millie and Frank are forevermore dancing to a tenor sax at the Troc.

Millie and Frank, The Trocadero Era



To Friends and Family and Colleagues and Mentors

John Cushon – Thank you for saying yes in November 2016 when I looked across a diner breakfast in New York and said, “John Cushon, will you be my producer?” Thanks also for not backing out when we got together in Vegas in 2017 and began to talk about TDLB in earnest. Thanks also for being my demo track creator, unintended tech, studio scout, and Moscow Mule Mixer, as well as teacher, therapist, coach, and true believer, especially when I didn’t know what I didn’t know or even that I didn’t know I didn’t know. (Oh yeah, and also for not quitting when I showed up to our first meeting with a playlist of the one-hundred-oh-my-god-is-he-serious-one-hundred?! songs I was considering …) But most of all, for being my extraordinary friend of some 36 years. Our laughs are the best part.

Oleta Adams – Thank you for your constant support, encouragement and friendship; for inviting me to your home for a “creative retreat” that turned ideas into plans; for the “mug therapy” and French press coffee; for insisting I should — and could — write an original for the album, and especially for being on my side when counting the Brahms.

Anne Phillips – Thank you for so quickly giving me a sense of belonging, not to mention opportunities to play, so soon after my move to New York. I was overwhelmed, but you and Bob befriended me as if you’d been expecting me. Your support, enthusiasm, boundless optimism and encouragement, advice, inspiration, friendship (and ah-mazing stories!) are like gold to me. “Born to be Blue” is a desert island record, and you are a desert island friend. And of course, without you, having Houston Person and Warren Vaché on my album would have remained but a balladeer’s dream.

Charlie Menghini – Thank you for more than 40 years of too many wise and good and kind and fun things to count, but most of all for making a difference. Without you, I know I simply wouldn’t have been set upon my path as it is, and it has been a very, very good path. Love you, my dear “old friend.” Aren’t those mountains beautiful?

Eddie and Patty Oyer – Thank you for those first lessons, the new friendship, and the old drums. I’m so happy my musical life began in your studio and that we reconnected all these years later. May Eddie rest in peace, and may his memory be a comfort to you, Patty.

Stephanie Chandler, Karl Palachuk, and Patrick Schwerdtfeger – Thank you for the kind of loving friendship that kicks me in the butt to stop thinking and start doing. When I relocated from New York it wasn’t until I met you three at that amazing mastermind group that Sacramento became “home.”

Vincent Armato and Joe Armato – VINCENZO! YOSEF! Thank you for being my awesome “Operation Uncle” personal assistants and photographers. But more than that, thanks for being a part of my favorite people: My awesome nephews and nieces. I love you all.

Libby York – Thank you for the advice and encouragement and recording wisdom (“It’s just a moment in time. It’s not your whole  career.”) And thank you for singing “For All We Know” on our gig just in time to make me realize I had to record it.

Kerry Strayer and Steve Patke – Thanks for the memories. Coming up on the gig scene in Kansas City in the 80s wouldn’t have been the same without you. To this day and for all days I will associate Nightlights with Kerry and Memories of You with Steve. I hope we did you proud, guys. May you each SIP (swing in peace).


To All the Listeners, Supporters, Researchers, and Helpers

For those who listened or critiqued or cheered or brainstormed or blurbed or just endured my endless talk of TDLB this and TDLB that (or all of the above) – I am grateful to Stan Allen, Dan Barber, Tom Giovagnoli, Allen Goodman, Dave Goodman, Paul Keller, Kevin Lepper, Jonathan Levine, Jim Martinez, Peter Petty, Lisa Smith, Brian South, and Jim Wyatt. I’m honored to be (old and new) friends with each of you. (Don’t make me fight you on this, Petty …) Thanks also to my band mates from the 1986 Disneyland All-American College Band. Our pandemic “re-zoomion” was beyond special and your encouragement for this project was just the boost I needed. And special thanks to my siblings, Mark, Mary, Laura, and Kathleen, who no doubt still cringe with memories of my bashing away in the basement on my drums and who I imagine are glad I chose to do something a little quieter with them on this album.

For insights and research I am grateful to the Hallmark Cards Archives (Anne Deuschle and Samantha Bradbeer) for looking into the 1981 jam session. I am also indebted to Paul Smith as well as the Kansas City Library (Matt Reeves), Marr Sound Archives (Chuck Haddix), Miller Nichols Library (Stuart Hinds), and State Historical Society of Missouri (Rachel Forester and Lauren Leeman) for help digging into the history of the Club Trocadero.

For professional help, big and small Thanks to Aaron Green at ESL for jumping in to make things right, Ted Deacon at Disc Makers for remarkable service, Sharon Agnello at Sterling for making it easy and a pleasure, and Ken Burman at Midwest Custom Cymbal Repairs for the refurbishing and riveting. Oh the pretty sounds you helped me have!



To Four Drummers and a Critic

Joe Dodge – Thank you for the thousands of listens to “Jazz Goes to College.” You just kept swishing those brushes and you made me want to do the same.

Joe Morello – It is my everlasting regret that I sought you out so late, and my everlasting appreciation that you made such a dramatic difference in my hands in just two lessons. May you rest in peace.

Peter Erskine – Thank you for writing the line “play what you want to hear, not what you want to play.” I can’t tell you how often I thought of that during the TDLB sessions. It changed everything.

Tim Metz – We were having coffee and I was complaining about my gigs and you said, “So put together your own project.” I know you meant a gigging group, but it watered the seed previously planted for this album. Thank you for that.

Ted Gioia – Thank you for describing music as “… a type of polygraph test, a source of insights about its creator…,” in your book ‘How to Listen to Jazz.” It inspired me to stop worrying about what I “should” play and commit to the music I find most beautiful, without reservation. The Drummer Loves Ballads is who I am.


 And finally, to that angry sax player at Crown Center in 1981

Angry Sax Player

You have no idea what you started …

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