It’s rare in your life to have someone who’s older than you and supports you almost like a good parent would. Buddy DeFranco was like that for me: a great, supportive friend and a kind person.
When I was 13, Benny Goodman was my idol-I played more in that realm. Then I started listening to the records of the day, Stan Getz, Miles and Coltrane; I was no longer trying to play like Benny on the clarinet, but I was stuck in this place of not knowing where to go. And I found one record of Buddy’s called Mr. Clarinet, a great, great record from 1957. I heard the sound on the clarinet and the way Buddy was doing it, and from that record I said, “Holy cow! This is the direction for me!”