My first strong musical influence came as I watched my mother perform koto recitals and gigs with her jazz group, the Murasaki Ensemble. I was totally immersed in the music she was doing; watching professional artists perform new music on a regular basis was a wonderful experience for me.
When I was in high school, I was fortunate to be able to hear a concert by Kazue Sawai, headmaster of the Sawai Koto School in Tokyo. She made a tremendous impact on my life; I realized that I had a chance to be able to transform myself and change in a dynamic way by performing music. I have since gone to Japan three times to study at the Sawai Koto School, with many Sawai teachers over there as an "uchi deshi" (live in student). I lived there for a short intense stays, and was very humbled by what was an invaluable experience.
Also in high school, I was able to take saxophone lessons from Steve Parker, and attended the weekly Oaktown Jazz Workshops led by Khalil Shaheed. I love Jazz and this is where my desire to play jazz was nurtured. In college, I was under the tutelage of Dann Zinn on Saxophone, conductors Tim Smith and Tony Clements in symphonic band and David Eshelman in jazz band. All of them are virtuosos in what they do. I worked in the restaurant at Yoshi's Jazz Club for three years, which allowed me the opportunity to see live shows every week. This definitely influenced my desire to continue my career as a musician. I was able to hear fabulous artists such as Mccoy Tyner, Kenny Garrett, Bobby Hutcherson, Nicholas Payton every week. As a composer, my musical talents grew tremendously under the tutelage of Frank LaRocca, Rafael Hernandez and Jeffrey Miller, professors of composition at CSU East Bay.