Hard-bop jazz artist recognized for his work with Art Blakey's band. He became a successful composer and bandleader.
He originally studied composition at the University of Denver, but changed to music education with the intent of becoming a teacher.
His career received one of the highest honors in January 2010 when he was inducted into the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters.
His mother, herself a talented pianist, was his first instructor.
He was greatly influenced by the likes of Nat King Cole and Bud Powell, striving to master their stylistic and technical approaches.