Lao Tizer – Golden Soul
(Frat House – 2000)
by Paula Edelstein
When guitar phenom Chieli Minucci formed the contemporary jazz group named Special EFX back in 1982, the smooth jazz genre was still in its infancy, but blossoming in certain mindsets and on selective radio dials that had the wisdom to realize its promising future. Minucci also had the wisdom and inclination to recognize talented musicians and often included them on his recordings. One very special young talent that has caught the ear of Chieli is pianist Lao Tizer. The young pianist played acoustic grand piano on Minucci’s 1998 hit MASTERPIECE on a song called “Awakening.” How appropriate that the music world would be formally introduced to Lao Tizer on such a title…we were literally awakened to his talent and musicianship. Prior to that “awakening” however, Lao had sold in excess of 50,000 self-produced CDs as a “street performer” and was being compared stylistically to the Dave Matthews Band or perhaps Bruce Hornsby.
Today, Lao Tizer is rapidly coming into his own. He is no longer a “street performer” but a well-respected pianist, composer, and arranger with sold-out concerts in some of Southern California’s best venues. In January 2001, Lao Tizer released his debut CD titled GOLDEN SOUL. Produced by his mentor Chieli Minucci for Frat House Records, the songs reveals the pop jazz sensibilities of the young geniuses known as The Lao Tizer Band. Lao wrote all of the songs and co-arranged 5 of the string and horn arrangements with Chieli. Ten songs speak from Tizer’s “Golden Soul” and along with his exceptional playing on both the acoustic piano and organ, the band is resplendent in their instrumental “coolness” precision and grace, which suggests that the transitions from pop to jazz is positively accomplished.
The band- Christopher Maloney on bass, Shane Gaalaas on drums and Jeff Kollman on guitar- plays in a variety of formats that feature excellent percussionists, strings, brass and woodwinds players. Lao Tizer’s reputation as an excellent pianist, composer and arranger is justifiable and GOLDEN SOUL is clearly a prodigious effort that deserves wider recognition.