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Artist of the Month, October 1997

Ozzie Ahlers

"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 my hearing."

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.
Ozzie's official web-site
Sidewalks Entertainment Television web-site

Ozzie appears on the Sidewalks Entertainment site.
Richard R. Lee Exec-producer
and Gary Simmons Co-producer


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