- By Brittany Hamor | Courtesy photo
Tonight’s Jazz in June performance features Lao Tizer, of the Tizer Quartet, and Eric Marienthal, a Grammy-winning saxophonist.
The Daily Nebraskan: Tell us a little about your history. Where are you from? When did you first take interest in jazz music? Why did you decide to pursue a jazz music career? Who are your inspirations?
Lao Tizer: I started piano lessons at age 9 with classical music like most young pianists, but improvisation and composing always came very naturally to me. I’ve been writing since I first started playing, and as an instrumentalist it was kind of a natural progression to get into jazz. I did not really study jazz till I was 19. As for my career, it just kind of happened to me. When I was 14 my parents loaned me money to buy my first electronic keyboard, and I had to repay about 60 percent of it, so I started performing in downtown Boulder, Colorado (my hometown). People quickly asked me to record an album, so at 15 I released my first cassette. By the time I graduated high school I was about to release my 3rd self-produced solo album. So the road was kinda paved for me naturally to pursue music further. I have many inspirations, but as for favorite pianists; Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Wynton Kelly, Bruce Horsnby, Lyle Mays, Hiromi, etc…
DN: You’ve performed at Jazz in June before – once in 2008 and again in 2012. What are your favorite Jazz in June memories? How will your performance this year be different from your previous Jazz in June performances?
LT: Both previous appearances there were SUPER fun! Great audiences who really appreciated what we were doing musically, and we are really looking forward to returning this summer! As for the performance, this band lineup is different than last time, so it will be very fresh as a quartet with the great Eric Marienthal on sax, Ric Fierbracci on bass & drum phenom Gene Coye! We’re also working new music from our forthcoming album into the show. There will be a mix of catalog material of mine and some new stuff. I think people will really dig it!
DN: You have a number of accomplishments under your belt, including being nominated for Jazz Group of the Year in 2011. What are a few of your proudest accomplishments in your career? What makes those accomplishments stand out from the rest?
LT: I suppose both that nomination and my “Best New Jazz Artist” nomination in 2002 are both nice feathers in the cap, so-to-speak. But for me, the accomplishments that matter most are growing as a pianist, composer and bandleader. So it’s an ever-evolving process, as it should be! Of course performing on some of the premier international events we’ve had the pleasure of appearing on are some of the high points too… I love traveling through music and sharing what we do with different audiences and cultures, it’s very rewarding!
DN: You have performed in many states this summer such as Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. What has been your most memorable performance this summer and what made it so special? You are also performing in Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado, California, West Virginia, New York, Maryland, Connecticut and Indiana after your Nebraska performance. What state are you most excited about performing in and why?
LT: I love traveling and can’t say I look forward to particular states or countries more than others. It’s all part of the journey! I’m a Colorado native, so it’s always special to go home to perform and see my friends and family. I’m definitely looking forward to that!
DN: What should the audience expect from your performance at Jazz in June? What do you want listeners to take away from your music?
LT: Our performances are always fresh. Every show is different, and the band really plays off each other, so the music goes new places every night. That’s the true spirit of jazz, letting the spontaneity of the setting, audience, ambience come out through the interpretation of the music. We listen to each other and from there you never know where things will go! I think audiences generally really connect with the energy and synergy we share on stage. I mostly just want to connect with the audience through music and hopefully take them on a bit of a journey, the highs and lows, funk to ballads to world, etc and leave them wanting more.. Which by the way, there will be CD’s they can take home with them!