I went through the whole number, you know. The swing era, the boogie woogie era, the bebop era. Thelonious Monk is still one of my favorites. So a lot of these people had their effect on me.
Then I started listenin' a lot to classical composers. Piano works. Just to see what they were doin'. That sort of put me in a different groove to try to blend all that in.
I've been able to do pretty well. I don't work as many consecutive nights as I used to, but I'm still working over 100 nights a year, so that's good for me.
I do very few standards. Hardly any. Other people's tunes that I do are usually obscure tunes, for the most part, although I do a couple of Duke Ellington tunes that are well known.
As far as I'm concerned, the essentials of jazz are: melodic improvisation, melodic invention, swing, and instrumental personality.
It's as much fun as it ever was, you know, once I get there. Gettin' there is a little harder.
The jazz boom was goin' on then so there was a lot happenin' in New York at that time.
There's a lot of terrible things goin' on all the time, but you gotta try and have some fun in the end.
I just try to do as good job with the material as I can and play some jazz as well, some improvised music, and do that every night. Just see where it goes.
My main influences have always been the classic jazz players who sang, like Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole and Jack Teagarden.
So I'm in my 51st year of playin' mostly nightclubs. I do some concerts.
The thing of playin' and singin' never bothered me.
I'm always storing away phrases and ideas and things that I think might turn into songs.