Lao Tizer, Chieli Minucci, Karen Briggs

Contemporary Jazz

Fri, Apr 2

Keyboardist and recording artist Lao is widely considered a torchbearer for the new generation of contemporary jazz, and has graced the stage at events worldwide alongside artists including: Isaac Hayes, Boney James, Zappa Plays Zappa, Wayne Shorter, George Benson, The Commodores, The Rippingtons, Bruce Hornsby, Jethro Tull, and Spyro Gyra.

Lao Tizer

Keyboardist and recording artist Lao Tizer captivates audiences of all ages and musical tastes. Lao has been proclaimed “an independent artist with all the right moves” and “a torchbearer for the new generation of contemporary jazz.” He is a “Best New Jazz Artist” nominee; a Yamaha-endorsed pianist and keyboardist; has appeared at premier venues including Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, Pier 39 – Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco; and has graced the stage at events worldwide alongside artists including: Isaac Hayes, Boney James, Zappa Plays Zappa, Wayne Shorter, George Benson, The Commodores, The Rippingtons, Bruce Hornsby, Jethro Tull, and Spyro Gyra. Lao’s recordings have sold over 90,000 copies, charted and received acclaim in the industry’s most respected publications and his music can be heard on radio and television airwaves worldwide. His talents continue to evolve and command attention.

At the age of five, Lao became enchanted by the sounds of a piano, originally purchased for his sister. After several years of tinkering, Lao’s parents finally gave in to their son’s pleading for lessons and, at the age of nine, he began his formal training. The long-awaited lessons flourished as he quickly exhibited his flair for composition and improvisation. “My parents always encouraged me to pursue my own creativity,” said Lao, “I learned early on how to improvise and be musically adventurous.”

Lao began his career during his high school years in his hometown of Boulder, Colorado and self-produced and released his first three solo keyboard recordings by the age of seventeen.

In 1997, Lao relocated to Los Angeles to further pursue his musical passion. His talents quickly attracted the attention of renowned contemporary jazz guitarist, composer, producer and Emmy Winner Chieli Minucci (Special EFX). Collaboration on a demo project ensued and within only a few months, Lao was wowing audiences in the “City of Angels.” In 1998, with advice from Minucci, Lao formed TIZER (formerly the Lao Tizer Band) featuring an all-star lineup including Jeff Kollman – guitar; Andre Manga – bass, Raul Pineda – drums, and Steve Nieves – sax, percussion and vocals).

In 2001, Frat House Records released Golden Soul, Lao’s first full-production record featuring his group. Golden Soul allowed Lao to reunite with musical mentor Minucci in recording the album and the result was spectacular. The single, “Her Poetry,” received accolades from all sectors of the industry and charted on both the Gavin Charts and Radio & Records’ reports and reached Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album chart. The success of Golden Soul planted and nurtured the groundling effort of Lao and TIZER’s growing fan base and spurred the progression of his inspiring live concert experience.

In 2006, TIZER returned to the studio to record Diversify, Lao’s first release for Yse Records. Produced by long-time friend and guitarist Jeff Kollman, the musical themes of Diversify truly reflect its title. The album expounds upon Lao’s broad artistic influences while staying firmly rooted in his benchmark style. The record features phenomenal piano performances from Lao, supported by his handpicked group and features guest appearances by top-flight artists including: Chieli Minucci, Karen Briggs, Munyungo Jackson and Andy Suzuki. Both singles from the album charted on both Radio & Records Jazz Indicator and SmoothJazz.com charts. Diversify continues to appear on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album chart thanks to this airplay and a busy concert schedule.

In 2008, Lao again broadened his horizons and assembled an all-star concert tour: TIZER featuring the aforementioned Chieli Minucci and international violin virtuoso Karen Briggs (Yanni, Soul II Soul, Stanley Clarke, etc). In the fall, Lao returned to the studio to embark on a journey back to his roots with a more piano-oriented project called Passages. Recent times also saw Lao make his Asian and African concert debuts. As we enter the new year, look for Lao to release his forthcoming album and continue his demanding tour schedule with TIZER, the all-star concert tour with Minucci and Briggs, and other configurations as he ventures further into the international marketplace.

Lao Tizer’s continuing growth as a composer is brightly refracted in the deep musical prism of his evolving artistry. Whether he is performing solo or in concert with his extraordinary band, the future promises spectacular accomplishments from this gifted young artist. A diverse path is promised for the novice listener and experience-seeking fan.

Chieli Minucci

Chieli Minucci is best known as the leader of the Grammy-nominated contemporary jazz group Special EFX, which formed in 1982. Minucci & Special EFX have recorded a combined 25 CDs, 8 of those being solo releases. In addition Minucci has recorded and performed with top pop artists such as Celine Dion, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Jewel, Mark Anthony, Jessica Simpson, Anastasia and others, as well as jazz/pop artists Bobby Caldwell, Marion Meadows, Jay Beckenstein, Kim Waters, Alex Bugnon, Gerald Veasley, Lao Tizer, Nestor Torez, Bob Baldwin, and many others. His father, Ulpio Minucci (concert pianist/composer) wrote the now ‘standard’ 1955 hit song “Domani,” as well as “A Thousand Thoughts of You,” and “Felicia” (both sung by Nat King Cole).

Also known as a composer for television and film, Minucci was nominated for 10 Daytime Emmy Awards and has won three, in 1998, 2007, and most recently in 2008, for his eclectic compositional work on CBS’s The Guiding Light. He has written music for well-known programs such as Good Morning America (theme), Bloomberg Radio (theme), Access Hollywood, The 700 Club, and others. He also contributed music to the soundtracks of Bowfinger (1999) and Panic (2000), as well as most recently to ‘Lifted’ (2007) and is currently working on the independent film, ‘Indelible.’

Minucci composed and produced the soundtrack for the Broadway Across America/Nickelodeon live stage productions of the hit TV series, Dora the Explorer (‘Dora’s Pirate Adventure,’ ‘The City of Lost Toys’ and currently ‘Return to the City of Lost Toys’) which are currently touring the USA. He also wrote and recorded original songs for the live stage production of Thomas & Friends Live™, (both ‘Thomas Saves The Day!’ and most currently, ‘A Circus Comes to Town’).

Karen Briggs

“Karen Briggs is one the baddest and most entertaining violinist on the music scene! Her latest project “Soulchestral Groove,” embodies the near perfect ingredients that brings on the heat!”~ The Urban Flux

She was born in New York and started playing violin at age 12 in Portsmouth, Virginia’s public school system. In 1987, she moved to Los Angeles and now is her time to shine!

Described as “that lady in red”, Karen Briggs’ performances on violin in the multi-platinum selling, “Live at the Acropolis” PBS Special (1994) have been seen and remembered by literally millions of people around the world.

Her Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist took place in 1997, when while accompanied by Pianist/Composer Dave Grusin, she participated in a fundraiser event hosted by Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman. She appears in the resulting classic family movie entitled, “Music of the Heart” starring Merle Streep, Angela Bassett and Gloria Estefan.

Karen has toured with Stanley Clarke and drummer, Lenny White (Return To Forever), frontlining the group “Vertu” along with guitarist, Richie Kotzen (Poison) and keyboardist, Rachel Z.

Karen’s inclusion in various genres of music and artists has continued with Ledisi, Loose Ends, The Hopeville Tour/DVD with Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Mike Phillips, Wynton Marsalis, Benise, Wu Tang Clan (Reunited) , Hidden Beach’s Unwrapped Series, Ledisi, Keb Mo, Soul ll Soul, No Jazz and currently partners up with Lao Tizer and Chieli Minucci.

Jazz supergroup who individually have topped charts and worked with everyone from Yanni to Celine Dion.

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