AL CHEZ and THE BROTHERS of FUNK
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AL CHEZ and THE BROTHERS of FUNK

Newton, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Newton, New Jersey, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
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"Al Chez and the Brothers of Funk will headline the DCI 40th Anniversary 'Grand Reunion' after-party bash"

There's sure to be a "whole lot of rhythm goin' round" when drum corps and television personality Al Chez and his Brothers of Funk Big Band tear the roof off Indy's all-new Crane Bay event center for the sizzling Grand Reunion after-party on Friday, Aug. 10, as part of the DCI World Championships.

The event, billed as "the largest drum corps reunion party in history," will cap-off an emotional evening which will bring together hundreds of drum corps alumni representing a variety of corps spanning the colorful 40-year history of Drum Corps International.

“We’re thrilled to have Al Chez and the Brothers of Funk Big Band join us for what is already shaping up to be a unbelievably spectacular day for drum corps participants, fans and alumni alike,” said Susan Kuehnhold, Director of Events for Drum Corps International. “The special events planned for Friday evening of Championships Week will be second only to the remarkable performances taking place on the field of competition. After observing Indy’s “other” big event (Super Bowl XLVI) earlier this year, we’re pulling out all the stops to make sure that the Grand Reunion and the after-party will talked about for years to come.”

Al Chez has spent a lifetime immersed in the drum corps activity. Starting at the age of nine with a New Jersey corps his father helped start, he went on to spend 13 years as a member of the Garfield Cadets followed by stints with the all-age Bushwackers and Reading Buccaneers. Since his drum corps performance days came to an end, he has been an active staff member with several junior and all-age groups, working since 2000 with the Crossmen. In 2012 he will return to the San Antonio corps as a brass and music programming consultant.

Joining the CBS Orchestra full-time in 1997, Chez has performed on the Late Show with David Letterman, in addition to gigging with a diverse array of artists including Tower of Power, the Robert Cray Band, Spyro Gyra and Jon Bon Jovi.

Chez helped start the Brothers of Funk Big Band in 2009 with two Rochester, N.Y.-area music teachers. His ensemble carries a roster of more than 20 professional-caliber musicians, and has played a number of high-profile shows in recent years including the Syracuse Jazz Festival.

The celebration will commence at Crane Bay immediately following the DCI World Championship Semifinals competition at neighboring Lucas Oil Stadium, located less than a football field’s length away in downtown Indy. The impressive new 18,000 square foot multipurpose facility recently played host to the Rolling Stone Magazine Rock Weekend bash, which took place as part of Indianapolis’ Super Bowl festivities in February. - dci.org


"Aria: The DCI.org interview: Al Chez of "The Late Show""

Perhaps the most high-profile drum corps veteran in contemporary popular culture, Al Chez plays trumpet every night on CBS’ “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The New Jersey native (he grew up in Woodbridge and now resides in Andover township) lives with his wife, Cat, and children Travis (age 23), Meika (23), Marie (19), Michelle (18), Jessica (17) and Morgan (15), as well as three dogs and a cat. “We have a very full home,” Chez said.
When he’s not playing with the CBS orchestra, Chez still finds time to instruct the Crossmen -- to give back a little something to the drum corps activity. “I still owe,” Chez said, adding, “Every time I see a young student in a drum corps uniform I see myself.”

DCI.org: What is your drum corps background?
Chez: My father, growing up in Jersey City, N.J., snuck into the Dream Contest (a storied New Jersey drum corps show) when he was young. His buddies soon cut out, but he enjoyed it and stayed. When there was a corps starting in our hometown of Woodbridge (the Saints), he and my mom were original board members. My two brothers, Peter and Michael, both joined. I was too young. As soon as I turned 9, I joined.
I marched there with my brothers until the corps disbanded following the 1977 season. Having drum corps in my blood, I then joined the Garfield Cadets and marched there from 1978 to 1982. I also marched again with my two brothers in the 1982 Reading Buccaneers (senior corps) and the Bushwackers in 1985.
I then taught many corps on and off while pursuing my musical career. I worked with such corps as the Cadets, the Reading Buccaneers, the Oakland Crusaders, the Bushwackers, the Kingston Grenadiers and the Crossmen.
I still am involved with corps, consulting for the Bushwackers and working for the Crossmen (I begen teaching the Crossmen in 2000). I grew up in drum corps. I seriously believe I received my career from it. The hard work and dedication to a goal -- these and other attributes that were taught to me made it possible to continue my musical career. I still work with corps for the love of it. I do believe I still owe something back.

DCI.org: How did you get started playing trumpet professionally?
Chez: While I was in the Cadets, I got a call from one of the contra players, who said he knew of a band in Sayreville, N.J., that needed a trumpet player. I went down and auditioned and got the gig. The band was the Atlantic City Expressway. Jon Bon Jovi was the lead singer. I was 16. We played for years down the Jersey Shore. I took off the summers for drum corps.

DCI.org: How did you get the job on The Late Show?
Chez: I was jamming in a club in New York City when Paul Shaffer came in. He was doing gigs with the Letterman band during the show’s “off” weeks. Paul hired the sax player (Bruce Kapler) and I on the spot.
That was in the NBC days. We worked the show whenever they needed a horn section. Then when the show moved to CBS, I was in California performing with Tower of Power and the Robert Cray Band. When I came home to New Jersey, I called Paul Shaffer and told him if he wanted to hire another horn player I would stay home and not go out on the road any more.
I was hired for “Sweeps,” the television ratings period that lasts one month. It was the last day of sweeps and I had not heard anything. The band guys said, “Thanks for playing and good luck.” On the air that last night Dave Letterman looks over and says, “Paul, the new trumpet player sounds great.” Dave looks at me and asks, “So, did you get the gig or what?” Paul says, “We are waiting to hear from you, Dave.” Letterman says, “Well, if it’s up to me, he stays.”
The next day the CBS lawyer is calling asking for my lawyer’s number to negotiate a TV contract. I told him I would call him back -- as I flipped through the Yellow Pages to find a lawyer.

DCI.org: What does David Letterman think of your drum corps instructional career?
Chez: He digs it. He loved when the Cadets were on the Late Show.

DCI.o - dci.org


"From 'Radar Love,' Al Chez and the Brothers of Funk Zone In"

Al Chez brought his Brothers of Funk Big Band to the stage to start the third set of this day at the M&T Jazz Fest at Onondaga Community College, and the trumpet player and his grand collection of musicians whumped the crowd aside its collective head with a romping, rowdy version of the old Golden Earring classic “Radar Love.”
Some in the crowd stood and applauded the power and their good fortune. Plenty of Chez and mates to come. So, how do you top that?
Chez did it was a considerable amount of charm, a late night band guy with a hip and personable way.
The self-proclaimed “Jersey Rat” sang “This Song’s for You” with a cool blues ballad rasp. He told the won-over fans the list he made to make sure he has a great day: Get a big belly laugh. Do something to make yourself proud. Do something to make somebody else feel proud. Do something good for somebody for no reason at all. If you love somebody, tell them. Then Chez called out to his wife, Kat, and did just that. (Daughter Marie Rose Berker sang “I’ve Got News for You” in a powerful blues voice with the Brothers.)
And he picked up his trumpet to perform a lyrical and memorable “What a Wonderful World.”
The Brothers of Funk, meanwhile, lived up to their name. Chez called it “the nasty,” as in, “do you want some more …” Surely everybody did, so he and his daughter sang a quite funky “Unchain My Heart.” - syracuse.com


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Bio

Al Chez, is a trumpet player extraordinaire. Getting his start in his father’s drum corps in New Jersey at age 9, his career has spanned more than 20 years with stints in a number of rock, funk and blues bands.

As a teenager in 1979, Chez and some fellow New Jersey musicians, including Jon Bon Jovi, started The Atlantic City Expressway, which played locally for five years before disbanding. A few years later, Chez met Paul Shaffer and was invited to tour with The World’s Most Dangerous Band.

A veteran of the clubs around New York City and New Jersey, Chez branched out to California to join the soul-funk band Tower of Power in 1988 and then played trumpet for the band of blues master Robert Cray for a short time in the mid-1990s.

Chez has played a number of high-profile tours and events, from Bon Jovi’s 1987 Slippery When Wet tour to the closing ceremonies of the 1996 centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta with Stevie Wonder and B.B. King.

In 1997, Shaffer asked Chez to be a full-time member of the CBS Orchestra, and Chez has been performing on The Late Show with David Letterman ever since. He maintains a presence as an instructor for a number of drum corps, and is a staff member for the University of Virginia Cavalier marching band.

He formed Al Chez and the Brothers of Funk Big Band with two Rochester-area music teachers, Jimmy Steele and Jarred Streiff.

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