First off, sincere and humble apologies for the delay in getting this post up and out. Sometimes life deals you a different set of cards than you were expecting and at the same time, offers up a nice side dish of gut punches to keep you in check… I don’t recall ordering those, but it is what it is… and the extra time allowed me to spend more quality time with this phenomenal album, which quite often helped me get out of my funk.
This was supposed to post when the album came out, back on March 16, so while it is not exactly “new,” I am hoping to be the one to introduce you to this amazing and fantastic artist and band. For those who already know and love Lao Tizer, welcome.
And away we go… It’s pretty easy to drag me out of the house to go to listen to live music. Especially when it’s in my own backyard.
But I was a bit tired when my buddy Sam Glaser asked me to meet him at Bogies last July 13th. Plus, I had been there a few times before, and found it to be… well… a “Cougar Bar.” Lots of loaded ladies (in more ways than one)… hitting on lots of young dudes, who were probably NOT so loaded. It was so not my scene.
But they have changed things around quite a bit… and now have live music way more often. The sound is phenomenal and the venue (seated at tables) is relaxed and quite enjoyable. It seems like they put a lot into the equipment, and the bands and artists seem to love playing there. The room is filled with people who are there to actually listen to the music… you know, be respectful, and not try to talk OVER the band, which is sadly, super rare in LA these days.
I am sure I was stressed, too… which seems to be un-subsiding as of late… but I got into my car and drove the 10 minutes to Westlake… sat down with Sam, and grabbed a beer.
There is certain music that just makes you feel good. Truly. You can not even try to be angry or upset while listening to it. Welcome to the Lao Tizer Band. Lao Tizer was insane. The band starts and literally does not stop… until they take their break between sets. It is jazz and fusion and rock and everything in between at its best and blew me away. And any frustration or anger I was having that day, vanished. Thank you, Sam! And Lao!!!
When a band has a certain “live” energy, and just floors it on stage, it is often hard to capture that on a record. Sometimes the enthusiasm, joy and pure passion of playing is tempered, either lightly or a lot. This is SO not the case this record. And it makes total sense that it was recorded LIVE in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood!
The album consists of eight incendiary original instrumentals (Yes, I have been watching Almost Famous a lot recently) and three iconic classic rock songs!
“We’ve never done anything with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Lao.
This is the first album for the band in over five years!
Lao was a teenage prodigy from Boulder, CO, and has been playing for over 25 years now. He has nine albums which all show his eclectic musical tastes and influences.
He is the “son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) have brought him to a place in his artistic life where he was ready to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players…”
If this is not “Jazz Fusion” I don’t know what is… though I am always hesitant to use that description, as so many people have a negative connotation. I started listening to Jazz Fusion in college with Spyro Gyra and Pat Metheny… quickly moved to Steely Dan in a more hardcore way… and really discovered everything.
For me “fusion”… as in Asian Fusion food, which is delicious… is just a combination of many styles, genres and influences. Maybe people mis-associate Jazz Fusion with elevator music, but if this was ever playing in an elevator I was in, I would not want to get out!
I mean come on, Lao and the band offer some complete unique and kick ass arrangements of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa”!
So of course you have Lao Tizer on keys… The vocals feature Tita Hutchison, who sang with the likes of Michael McDonald, Rick Rubin, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner, among others. Terrible artists all… 😉
The rest of the band is made up of:
Chieli Minucci, the three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated guitarist and composer.
Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who is a permanent member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band.
EWI/saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Nieves
Violinist Karen Briggs, who has played with Yanni, Diana Ross, Wu-Tang Clan, and Chaka Khan
Bass players include Grammy® Award-nominee Ric Fierabracci and Cheikh NDoye,
Grammy® Award-nominated drummer Gene Coye
Percussionist Munyungo Jackson
I had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of these artists live!
My favorite tracks, aside from the three covers… Yes, I started life as a Classic Rock guy… is the banging opener “The Source,” which begs me to get in the car and open all the windows and just drive… the late night soother “Forever Searching” which has such a soulful and deep yearning that winds itself up to the heavens with Karen’s strings… and the absolutely stunning “To Touch The Sky” which could be the soundtrack to any number of films all on its own.
And if you get a chance to see Lao and the band live, it is a multiple must… Here is just another little taste… Both he and the band play with such joy and bliss, and like I said it is mood changing and infectious. I have done many posts on what I call joyful music, and it has to start with the artist and band… they have to love and want to play. You have to feel it from them, on stage and on vinyl. This record… this artist… and this band are pure and simple joy! And that, my friends, is the key (or keys) to life.