When he was six, he started on piano, eventually playing in church. He performed in the 1960s with Little Anthony and the Imperials and Damita Jo, and also accompanied comedian Timmy Rogers. He entered the jazz world in 1969, working for the next several years with Eric Kloss, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, James Moody, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Eddie Jefferson, and George Benson. He was music director for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. During the 1980s, he appeared on albums by Phil Woods, Art Farmer, Richie Cole, and Benny Golson.