Captivated by the transformational power of sound from his earliest years, David began music lessons that the tender age of 7 on clarinet. In the early years of high school he worked as a clerk at the Academy of Musical Arts in his hometown of Montclair, New Jersey to fund his musical education. During this time he steadily developed a growing passion for masterpieces of the “serious” literature, most especially the string quartets of Beethoven and the New Viennese School. His wind quintet earned him acceptance as a student of composition at the New England Conservatory, where he studied composition under Robert Ceely, and crossed paths with many towering figures of music including Robert McKinley, Jackie Byard and Gunther Schuller among others. Singing baritone in the acclaimed New England Conservatory Chorus under Lorna Cooke deVaron, he had the opportunity to sing with the Boston Symphony in Symphony Hall under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, as well as with the Boston Pops under the stern eye of Maestro Fiedler. Though studying composition, most of his friends at Conservatory were in the jazz program, and the influence of great American improvisational music took firm root and began to grow.
Yearning for a broader educational experience, David chose to leave NEC after one year, and following a year hiatus from school to regroup and make applications, entered the University of California Santa Cruz as a dual-major in mathematics and music composition. His musical mentor David Cope introduced him to the broad and vast possibilities of composition inspired by the likes of Ian Xenakis, Edgar Vareze, and some of the most innovative voices in improvisational music at that time. But it was only after living for year in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco, heading down 2 or 3 times a week to the legendary Keystone Korner to hear the likes of Art Blakey, Anthony Braxton, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and so many others, that a serious course into jazz was set. Even as a child he always wanted to play the saxophone, and finally in his early 20s he got a hold of his first clunky old Buesher alto, quickly upgrading to a nice Selmer tenor, and began to practice diligently. In San Francisco he studied with Richard Davis and Rach Cztar, two amazing saxophonists of the San Francisco Saxophone Quartet.