Keyboardist and composer Lao Tizer has assembled a multicultural band influenced by an explosive mix of jazz, rock, classical, jam band influences and Afro Cuban and world rhythms. Establishing themselves in the contemporary jazz world over the past few years, TIZER has spurred comparisons of a modern twist to the 70s and early 80s heyday of jazz fusion, when trailblazing ensembles like Return To Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report set the aesthetic standard. Lao assembled a group of veteran world-class musicians to create a dynamic rich with new melodic, harmonic and improvisational possibilities. He is joined by artists Chieli Minucci, guitarist and winner of three Emmy Awards, violin great Karen Briggs, and Eric Marienthal, voted a favorite alto sax player by Jazziz Magazine’s readers poll.
Over the past few years, Tizer—a 2011 nominee for “Jazz Group of the Year”-- has taken his multi-faceted world fusion vibe around the globe, galvanizing thousands of fans at events including the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, the Dubai Jazz Festival, Barbados Jazz Festival, the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival, and the Festival International Providencia Jazz in Santiago, Chile. Tizer has a multigenre, multi-national appeal that expands beyond just jazz enthusiasts. The band’s diverse resume includes performance slots alongside Zappa Plays Zappa, Jethro Tull, Isaac Hayes, Al Jarreau, Spyro Gyra*, George Benson, Soulive, Babyface, Bruce Hornsby and Robin Thicke.
“Downbeat,” his latest album, marks the first time that Lao Tizer has co-produced one of his albums. Loving the big sound of the band and all the intricacies it has in the live setting inspired his simple concept when it came time to write and record the album. “We wanted ‘Downbeat’ to have the same blend and balance via strong, detailed arrangements and studio production. It all starts with a completely live rhythm section—drums, bass, percussion, keys—and that translates to an organic foundation to build from.”
*2006 Silver Spring Jazz Festival Headliner
Homegrown star Marcus Johnson, an extraordinary jazz keyboardist and composer, will perform his own original compositions, a blend of contemporary jazz stylings and hip-hop rhythms. He describes his music as “instrumental R&B with a D.C. bounce.” Marcus began playing the piano at age nine and, from that point, he wanted to “create classics, not just hit songs.” Marcus is a founding member of the Silver Spring Jazz Festival.
One of the best hard-hitting, versatile percussionists around, 2009 GRAMMY nominee Wilson “Chembo” Corniel was born in Manhattan of proud Puerto Rican parents. During these years, he had the privilege to study with such luminaries of the Afro-Caribbean percussion tradition as Tommy Lopez Sr., “Little Ray” Romero, Louie Bauzo, and Cachete Maldonado. Chembo honed his skills at La Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, under the direction of the great Chucho Valdes. Chembo teaches percussion to students at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and leads numerous clinics throughout the United States, bringing awareness of the rich Afro-Caribbean traditions to others.
In addition to playing the piano, Sharp Radway is also a prolific composer and arranger, serving as music director, pianist, and arranger for The Celebration of Lionel Hampton Big Band and The New York City Ska Orchestra. Staying true to his roots, he also continues to play in church in Brooklyn, serving as music director. Sharp started playing in church as a child, first playing alto saxophone and later drums. As a teenager, he played piano and keyboard in church and began working with choirs. Sharp is also the founder and director of The Sharp Radway Gospel Chorale. He also has appeared in the major motion picture “Cadillac Records” with Mos Def, Beyoncé Knowles, and Cedric the Entertainer.
The Jazz Academy of Music is the manifestation of a longtime dream of Music Director Paul Carr to extend the music education opportunities afforded him, as an inner-city youth, to others. Paul completed his formal education at Howard University and has dedicated his career to mastering the technicallychallenging saxophone. The Jazz Academy provides instructional opportunities to children who have an interest in developing their talent and knowledge about music. The ultimate goals are to advance and preserve jazz music by instilling youth with a passion and love for jazz. Today’s performers are all current or past students of the Jazz Academy of Music.