of the Month, October 1997
"Once you've achieved a level of success, you want to do everything
you can to protect it. My success is in music, so I'm going to protect
Our first H.E.A.R. featured Artist of the Month OZZIE AHLERS is back
with a new solo project! Already highly familiar to Contemporary Instrumental
audiences through his dazzling performing, co-writing and co-producing
on label mate Craig Chaquico's three hit albums on Higher Octave Music,
keyboardist Ozzie Ahlers eases gracefully into a spotlight of his own
on the non-stop up-tempo rhythms of his label debut, "Fingerpainting."
Focusing on the more groove intensive facets of his Grammy -noiminated
work with Chaquico, Ahlers offers a spirited, passionately melodic journey
through the many jazz, rock, soul and blues influences which have guided
his lengthy career as a sideman for such legends as Van Morrison and Jerry
Garica, composer for film and TV, as well as the backbone behind the sonic
image of Chaquico.
For the highly prolific Ahlers, who drew many of these nine tunes from
the great surplus of material he wrote for the guitarist, the overall
optimistic attitude of "Fingerpainting" comes from his belief
that" downtime, whether in the studio, on the road, or in a song,
makes me edgy. I like adventure, hooks getting to the point quickly and
focusing on rhythmic structures as equals to the melody." While he
keeps his frolicsome keyboard touch at the forefront, Ahlers has also
chosen top supporting players to give breadth to each composition. Over
the light funk edges of the title track , for instance, he engages in
a swirling conversation with Peter White's fanciful steel strings, while
later, they blend into the moodier side of the evening on haunting nightcap,
'Love's Embrace.' Ahlers also plays tribute to the blues with a confident
stroll down 'Bourbon Street' with the help of the wily slide guitar of
Jimmy Dillon (whose past pure blues album Ahlers produced). Blues also
predominates on lighthearted interlude 'Prelude To Love' and the soulful
attitudes of 'City Strut.'
"Fingerpainting" is also a showcase for Ahlers to pay tribute
to the great keyboardists he admired while dreaming of rock stardom growing
up in Summit, New Jersey. The Booker T influence is at the heart of the
organ-driven hip-hop shuffle'Dance Til Dawn,' while the spirits of Little
Richard and Fats Domino seem to be dancing around the blues rock celebrations
of 'Night On the Town.' Jazz legends Thelonius monk, Bill Evans and Oscar
Peterson also had a great effect on Ahlers development, to which the jazzier
textures of the title cut and vibrant 'Moringstar' will attest. Finally,
the romance of Ray Charles and Otis Redding shines through on Ahlers tribute
to his wife, 'Victoria's Song.'
Ahlers' first professional experience came when he started his first band
at the age of 16. He later attended Cornell University but dropped out
to pursue his rock and roll dreams. After close calls with two bands (including
one signed to Jimi Hendrix's label), he opted for the sideman/ touring
keyboardist role with Van Morrison, Jessie Colin Young (with whom he also
wrote songs) and Jerry Garcia. He has also scored or written songs for
various TV movies and feature films, including " northern Lights,"
which won a Cannes Film Festival Award in 1980, and the "Gumby movie,"
which led to his first collaborations with Chaquico. " Once I realized
the amazing chemistry between Craig and I," he says, "working
with him became my focus. Our partnership, both creatively and commercially,
has been an amazing experience."
"After 25 years of practicing for this moment," after amassing
an amazing "who's who" resume as a top rock and roll sideman,
Ozzie Ahlers' "Fingerpainting" brings him to the brink of one
simple goal: " To have people say, 'wow, cool music,' to make them
feel good about what I do." A bridesmaid no more, he's finally ready
for his proverbial close-up.
Ozzie is in the thick of the Bay Area music scene and is also a good friend
to H.E.A.R. Ozzie supports our goals to educate music lovers about the
relationship between excessive volume and hearing impairment. We're proud
to have Ozzie as our featured Artist of the Month.
Entertainment Television web-site
Ozzie appears on the Sidewalks Entertainment site.
Richard R. Lee Exec-producer
and Gary Simmons Co-producer