While I never had his training in music, owing to the changing conditions of growing up in a family struggling to pay the bills — which meant that my father often worked on construction jobs in other towns, and consequently did not spend the time and resources on myself and my other siblings that he had devoted to training my brother to play the piano — I came to understand that, as far as the ideals of jazz are concerned, improvisation was the holy grail, much more highly valued than the ability to play by rote, or even to read notation. The idea that whatever one can hear — musically speaking, and in one's mind — should come out through the instrument unimpeded, was what was meant by the expression "playing." As in "He is playing his (derriere) off," as my brother-in-law, a trumpet player, would often say of my brother. It is one of the highest compliments in jazz circles.
So I was exposed to this idea at an early age, probably when I was in high school. I had taught myself to draw around the second or third grade, probably to garner attention in a category other than music, as that option was clearly already taken. And my sisters were the dancers in the brood. At the time, I didn't think of my drawing as improvisation, though I quickly graduated from copying Walt Disney characters to making up my own, developing a comic strip featuring our pet dog, "Squeaky," a fox terrier to whom I was very attached. But later on, I recognized that what I found interesting about art, performance or plastic, was definitely in the area of improvisation.