In the first installment of this series, I called out Arvo Pärt, Steve Roach, Jack or Jive and Lucette Bourdin for their inspiration. Here are three more of my kindred spirits.

Eric Tingstad & Nancy RumbelEric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel

We go way back… I first discovered Eric’s solo guitar music in 1993, and the duo shortly thereafter. They don’t travel east very often, so it took until 2015 for me to make it to a concert of theirs and finally meet them.

Like so many of my musical heroes, Eric and Nancy shrug off genre labels and weave together influences from an exhilarating assortment of cultures. Their albums Woodlands (with David Lanz) and Legends have been touchstones for me all the way along.

If I can ever produce something that makes me feel the way that their tunes Magnolia and Secrets of the Big Sky do, then I’ll know I’m really on to something. Both written by Eric, these are two of my favorite pieces of music.


Led by Benjamin Bagby into their fifth decade, these early music giants have produced the only complete edition of Hildegard von Bingen’s music, along with two fantastic albums of 12th-Century Aquitanian Christmas songs, and many other outstanding works.

Their rendition of the Aquitanian song “Lux Refulget” (Shining Light) was featured in our wedding ceremony. Ezra Azmon played the melody on violin in the piece “Like a Riven Cloud” from my Separate Ones album.

After admiring their work for 20 years, I finally got to hear them live in 2017, performing their program Monks Singing Pagans.

Robert RichRobert Rich

One of the most brilliant and articulate musicians I’ve ever encountered, Robert makes a music that is as wide-ranging and resistant to categorization as any. He can go all-electronic or all-acoustic, and his modular synth work, flute playing and EBow steel guitar are all strong reference points. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him live three times since 2006, and got to meet him (along with Chris Russell) at his 2015 Peoria planetarium concert.

My debt to Robert also includes the introduction to Just Intonation, a natural tuning system which he has used for decades, and which I have adopted going forward. Robert also played a large part in getting the MIDI microtuning protocol adopted, which makes these explorations a lot easier for those of us who want to give up 12-tone Equal Temperament but keep using synths.

Continue to Part 3: A kindred spirit, a harmonic singer and a jazz visionary.