CJA 2004 Newsletter Featured Interview
(Not only is Todd a keyboard
player and arranger extraordinaire but Todd has also
produced two of the finest CD's containing Jazz
arrangements of Hymns! The group name is Causeway
– and they put their contemporary spin of jazz,
samba, guajira, and even a little mambo with favorite
hymns of yesterday. You can check out Causeway’s music
1) Todd, when did you start developing a love for Jazz music?
Todd: It all started with “What a Fool
Believes” by the Doobie Brothers. Or more
specifically, Michael McDonald. While the song itself
isn’t really considered jazz, it introduced me to
Michael McDonald. To this day, I love listening to his
voice and keyboard licks.
From there I started listening to artists like Tom
Scott, David Sanborn, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Bob James,
Spiro-Gyra, Al Jarreau, Earl Klugh, George Benson, and
2) Did you study Jazz piano formally and if so where
and with who?
Todd: Not really. All of my formal training was
on the classical side of the fence, where I studied
piano at Blair School of Music in Nashville, Tennesee,
then studied composition at Middle Tennessee State
University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
3) Who do you consider some of the main influences on
your writing and playing Jazz?
Todd: As mentioned before, Michael McDonald is
probably the largest influence. Others are David Foster,
Jay Graydon, George Duke, and Dave Grusin.
Even with writing for jazz, Aaron Copland, Gustav Holst,
and John Williams have influenced my writing pretty
4) What are five Jazz recordings you simply
couldn’t ‘live’ without?!!!
Todd: I’m taking the easy way out of this
one…I’ll just take my iPod. But even when I’m
listening on my iPod, I find myself migrating toward the
Rippingtons, Acoustic Alchemy, Pat Metheny, Larry
Carlton, and a good friend of mine, Ed Calle.
5) I really love the two CD’s you arranged and
recorded with Causeway. Can you tell us about Causeway
and how that came about?
Todd: Causeway’s forming as a band was a direct
result of Hurricane Andrew. In the aftermath of that
devastating storm, the organizers of the Miami Easter
Sunrise Service were looking to create a “home
touch” feel to the 1993 Easter Sunrise Service to
accentuate Miami’s “We Will Rebuild” campaign to
boost the morale of South Florida citizens. The
organizers approached me to form a group of local
musicians to lead worship for the Easter Sunrise
Service. I selected five studio musicians from the South
Florida area that I knew to be believers – Rey Sánchez,
music director and producer for Sony artists Cheyenne
and Braulio; Fofi Lancha, drummer for the international
TV show Sabado Gigante; Ken Kosicki, bass player who has
toured with Wayne Watson; and Ed Maina, sax player who
has toured with Natalie Cole and Frank Sinatra. We led
worship and performed “Because He Lives” – which
appears on Causeway’s 1996 debut CD – for that
service. The following Easter, University Baptist Church
of Coral Gables unveiled a new Saturday night worship
service targeted for young adults. The church staff
approached me to form and develop the band to lead
worship for this service. I recruited the same members
that appeared at the Miami Easter Sunrise Service, with
the addition of percussionist, Cookie Lopez. Cookie had
just finished touring with Gloria Estefan and the Miami
Word of mouth began to spread quickly, and we began
thinking about recording a CD of the arrangements I had
written for the group. While we were in pre-production
and pulling all the material together, Rey’s wife,
Cheryl, suggested we take on the name Causeway, which is
a bridge connecting an outer island to the mainland.
There are a million of them in Miami. Because we were
bridging new sounds with old hymns – with a Latin
flair – it seemed a perfect fit.
6) Are there any plans for another Causeway CD?
Todd: We keep talking about doing a Christmas CD,
largely because so many people–especially
churches–have made that request. If we find the time
to do it, we’d love to.
7) Where did you get to play and perform with
Causeway…churches or what? Did you have a booking
Todd: No, we do all our own booking because we
all have day jobs. For example, Rey Sanchez is Associate
Professor of Music Business and Entertainment Industries
at the University of Miami. Fofi continues to play for
Sabodo Gigante, the international television show on
Univision. So it’s quite a challenge to find dates
where we’re all able to get away.
Our very first gig – and the reason Causeway formed
– was the Miami Easter Sunrise right after Hurricane
Andrew. From there we have played church concerts,
conferences, conventions, crusades such as Tony Evans
and Luis Palau, and as a part of the festivities
surrounding Super Bowl XXXIII.
8) Todd, you write very excellent detailed charts,
(including most all the “jazzed-up” Hymn material
you recorded with Causeway. It is excellent material for
integrating more jazz into the worship service!) Can you
tell our readers a little more about what you have
available and where they can obtain these?
Todd: Because so many churches requested the
charts I had arranged to use with their local music
ministries, I created a web site called
resources4worship.com. It just launched earlier this
year, and we’re still getting things in order, but we
already have about 75 jazz arrangements available and
fully scored. On the charts from Causeway’s
“Unconditional Love Jazz” CD, all the improvised
solos are transcribed and accompaniment MP3s are
available for solo instrumentalists. We add new
arrangements to the site monthly. Because we want to
make the charts accessible to as many people as
possible, the cost of membership to the site is only
$9.99 per month (plus a $99 enrollment fee).
9) Share with us your most memorable experience
playing Jazz at a church/concert and why.
Todd: The most memorable experience was
definitely our first gig together as Causeway at the
Miami Easter Sunrise service. The service takes place
each year on Key Biscayne, which is an island just off
downtown Miami. Usually, the service is at the Marine
Stadium where the boat races take place. The stadium had
a neat floating stage. But the Marine Stadium was
severely damaged in Hurricane Andrew, and the floating
stage sunk. So the organizers of the service decided to
move across the road to the Miami Seaquarium (home of
The morning was uncharacteristically cold, and the wind
had been gusting heavily all through the night. We
arrived at 4:00 AM to load in, and noticed that the
stage was only large enough to fit us, leaving no room
for the rest of the platform personnel. When I asked
about the staging, I learned that it had blown off the
truck when crossing the Rickenbacker Causeway and was
now floating somewhere in Biscayne Bay.
We can laugh about it now, but the morning just went
downhill from there. We were all freezing…hands frozen
to our instruments, the wind was blowing our charts off
the music stands and into Biscayne Bay to join the rest
of the staging, and when we launched into “Because He
Lives,” the guest vocal soloist for the service
rocketed out of his seat – in the middle of the song,
mind you – and ran across the stage to me frantically
demanding that we stop playing because that was the song
he was going to sing.
With a beginning like that, it makes you wonder how
Causeway ever got together to play again! But it’s a
testament of how God can take anything or any event and
turn it into something good.
10) Do you find a spiritual connection in playing,
arranging, and writing music? What are your thoughts
Todd: Most definitely. You hear people say music
is the language of the soul, and I really believe that.
After preparing scores or charts for a recording
project, then getting into the studio and hearing the
projects come to life – whether it’s a new Causeway
recording or an orchestral recording – there’s
always a moment where I feel like communication is
flying all over the place between God and me, but not a
single word is said.
11) What is your favorite church hymn and why?
Todd: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”
and “Crown Him with Many Crowns” are always
favorites, but I think the one that tops the list right
now is “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart.” It’s kind of
hymnody’s version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
12) What are your thoughts about the state of worship
Todd: I think the state of worship music is
pretty solid…more so than it has been in a while. I
think were are successfully fulfilling Ephesians 5:19
and Colossians 3:16 more than in recent years. It’s
the controversies surrounding worship music that is sad
13) Share with us a Bible verse that has helped shape
your outlook on Music in the church and why?
Todd: 1 Peter 3:15 – But in your hearts set
apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an
answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for
the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and
Being a musician provides many opportunities to share
your faith. Growing up as a music minister’s son,
music and a relationship with Christ was simply part of
life. I thought everyone was a musician and a believer.
But as I grew older and realized the number of people
asking me why I did what I did, how I got into music,
what my source of inspiration was, the realization
struck that this was my opportunity to share the love of
Christ with them.