Dr. Daniel Montoya is a Modern Day Renaissance Artist-Scientist

Dr. Montoya at LeClair’s General Store

It doesn’t come as any surprise that a neuroscientist–someone who studies the way the brain works for a living–would be interested in the concept of Resonance. “It’s the goal of many people vibrating at the same frequency,” Dr. Montoya grins, “and I’ve experienced it with music.” He researches the idea of consciousness from a cognitive psychological standpoint, but philosophy and arts are never far from his scientific work.

Dr. Montoya hails from Argentina, where he started playing guitar at twelve. When he was seventeen, he volunteered to work a visit from the Pope. Eventually, the music and religion overlapped when he started writing and playing music for churches here in America. Religious music is designed to lead to resonance within the congregants.

His creative muse is Electronic music and his latest album is Space Songs for Earthy People. He creates the ethereal tunes on the computer, records vocals on his iPad in found spaces, and overlays more traditional instruments to make the sound full and rich. Getting caught in the bain of the artist’s life — when is the work done? when is it finished? — is not helped by the computer. “I’m endlessly tweaking,” he chuckles.

Another aspect of Dr. Montoya’s love of music is working as a deejay, spinning ambient, house, new age, trap, and other genres of electronic music. One of his favorite musicians is David Bowie, not only because of his constant learning and reinventing, but because of Bowie’s business acumen. “You have to learn to do it all as an artist today,” Dr. Montoya says, “No one else will look after your business like you will.”

photo from Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County Block Party.

A devoted community member, Dr. Montoya participated in a local board training program, and was selected to work with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County on their Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Arts Council’s CMAC (Cumberland Makers and Creatives) team, which focuses on networking, training, and supporting independent artists of all forms in our neighborhood. “I’m excited about things that are happening [in Fayetteville], the people, the vision,” he remarked.

“Minor Mood”, Major Chops: The All American Jazz Collective

Imagine eating lunch under the shade of an old oak tree, the mellow sounds of John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk wafting around you from a quintet sitting adjacent in the park. How melodious. How cosmopolitan. How All American.

Well, I have news for you: You can do just such a thing on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) every other Friday this coming fall when the All American Jazz Collective starts playing again. This loose quintet–sometimes a quartet, sometimes a sextet or more–plays on campus as well as various community gathering places around Fayetteville.

Jazz has a long history in the state. Coltrane hailed from High Point, Monk from Rocky Mount. Nina Simone is from Tryon, Billy Strayhorn spent formative years in Hillsborough. The NC Arts Council maintains a trail through eastern North Carolina dedicated to these luminaries and their stories. Perhaps we can get Fayetteville on the map: trumpeter Waymon Reed is from here. So the All American Jazz Collective is carrying on a proud North Carolinian tradition.

All American Jazz Collective
One lineup of the AAJC, Pappas far left, Carey in middle. Photo courtesy Anthony Russell.

AAJC started performing together in the fall of 2017. Co-founder Daniel Pappas mused, “Fayetteville had lots of R&B or Smooth jazz, even some fusion, but we wanted to do traditional jazz music.” Pappas moved here five years ago to teach and now runs the music department at FTCC. Jazz wasn’t his main musical focus before teaching at FTCC. “I felt I could speak about it better if I played it,” he chuckled. And with the wide spectrum of jazz styles, musicians, and songs to choose from, there is always something to play or to improvise around.

Jenne Carey, also a recent transplant to Fayetteville, and vocal instructor with FTCC, sings with AAJC. Jazz isn’t her background either–she’s a classically trained opera singer–but she jumped at the chance to grow her skills and range. “Ellington, Gershwin: these composers fused jazz with classical,” she enthused. The other members of the Collective vary from performance to performance. The March 2019 lineup at Holy Trinity included Jay Locklear on piano, Landon Oliver on organ, Anthony Russell on drums, and Willie Lockett (who is a former 82nd Airborne Bandmaster) on bass.

In addition to private functions, the AAJC has played at the opening of the Hope Mills Lake and with Sweet Tea Shakespeare. “I wish there was a jazz club here,” Pappas said. Hence the Friday Jazz Lunches and other community performances. Perhaps the new Jazzio’s restaurant on Bragg Blvd might be interested in the group to perform…

AAJC is an exciting contribution to the Fayetteville music scene. Pappas mentioned he was particularly enthusiastic about the Cape Fear New Music Festival, held at Methodist University in the Spring. Both Methodist and Fayetteville State University have strong music programs, including jazz studies. All these musical connections between educational establishments, bands, and individuals will make our city sound that much more rhythmic.