A playful Lao Tizer generously took the time to speak with this reporter before his performance and answered questions for all the media after the band's vibrant set. Lao appeared especially honored to be visiting the island. "The venue is spectacular, intimate and almost mysterious. The people are sweet and warm," he said. Taking in a bit of fun was also on the agenda. Lao, who had never sipped the Caribbean rum, said he found it to be "very good." (For all those that have visited the island, you know that the Barbadian rum is part of the national heritage of the community.)
The music of the "Tizer" group is an eclectic blend of world rhythms with earthy undertones and energetic arrangements. Tizer told the press after the performance that he believed "audiences are hungry for firey, live shows." Guitarist Chieli Minucci and violinist Karen Briggs complimented the fusion mix with their own brand of individuality, along with a tight rhythm section that didn't let go. The result was indeed a driving, original presentation with an edge.
The greatest challenge for this brand of music in the past few years has been the lack of radio support in the States. As most instrumental pop music fans know, the former world of "smooth jazz" is changing. The support mechanism for getting new music to the masses may indeed rest in the hands of .com radio and Internet magazines.
When asked about how they will market themselves, Lao appears to be leaning more toward live performances as a means to share the music. Let us hope that more jazz festivals like the Barbados Jazz Festival will continue to generously support new music. Kudos to the Barbados organizer, Gilbert Rowe, for taking a risk and hosting a variety of styles. (This reporter also especially enjoyed hearing the local bands earlier in the week, as the future rests in the hands of the next generation.)
The festival continues through January 17, 2010 with appearances by Babyface, Warren Hill, Marisa Lindsay, Arturo Tappin, and Alex M.
Our thanks to the Barbados Tourism Authority for the invitation to visit the island. The hospitality and kindness of all was greatly appreciated. For travel information, visit www.barbados.org.
(Pictured above right: Lao Tizer (piano) and Karen Briggs (violin) in the background.)