Luis Resto
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Luis Resto

Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE

Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Avant-garde


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Pianist-keyboardist Luis Resto spent years as one of Detroit's best-kept secrets, lending his supple fingers to albums from artists as diverse as Anita Baker, Patti Smith and his first big gig, Was (Not Was). The real breakout arrived earlier this decade, when Resto became one of Eminem's go-to studio collaborators: That's his piano figure you've heard countless times at the start of "Lose Yourself," which earned him an Oscar for his cowriting efforts.

Now Resto is putting his piano at the fore of his own project, a quartet featuring brother Mario Resto (guitar) and longtime session men Paul Nowinski (bass) and Keith LeBlanc (drums). Resto spent April previewing the new band for local audiences, and is cutting tracks for an album release.

An early glimpse of his latest material is now up at Resto's MySpace page, with a delightfully eclectic set of songs showcasing the music in progress, and revealing Resto's tasteful meshing of jazz, soul, rock and electronica. Promising stuff from a veteran who seems ripe to step out and get busy expressing himself. - By Brian McCollum - Detroit Free Press Pop Music Writer - 4 May 2008


One of the highlights of tomorrow night's Detroit Music Awards at the Fillmore should be Detroit-based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, arranger and producer Luis Resto -- perhaps better known to the rock mainstream for his songwriting collaborations and performances with Patti Smith, Eminem and Was (Not Was) -- previewing his new band...

Resto -- who most recently appeared with Smith at her performance last month at New York's Lincoln Center -- will also be playing with the band Monday night at Memphis Smoke... The band is finishing sessions for their first full-length album, to be released later this year. - By Bill Holdship - Metro Times - 24 April 2008


It had to be one of the most genuine moments in Academy Awards history.

This year's Oscar for Best Song was presented by no less than that one-time Caucus Club torch singer, Barbra Streisand. Ms. Megastar read the impressive list of nominees: songwriter Paul Simon; "Burn It Blue" from Frida; U2, for the flag-waving "Hands That Built America" from Gangs Of New York; a show-stopper in the blockbuster musical Chicago; and, oh yeah, that rapper Eminem and "Lose Yourself," from the little Motor City movie 8 Mile.

Then Streisand opened the envelope. Her eyes widened. The trademark nose twitched. She unleashed a startled "Whoooo!" and blurted, "The Oscar goes to ... Eminem!"

The weirdness was just beginning. Instead of His Emineminence, the man accepting the statuette was a slender, bespectacled guy with flowing black curls, emerging from a sea of black Armani formality in a dark gray Richard Tyler tailcoat, beads and a star-spangled blue shirt over a throwback Pistons jersey. Who was this guy?

Oscar's fashion Gestapo was merciless. "Doug Henning's basketball playing brother," one cynic jabbed. "A poor man's Yanni," sniped another.

"I thought the best was from US magazine: 'That Cher certainly knows how to reinvent herself,'" says Detroit keyboardist-composer Luis Resto, the object of Hollywood's derision. "They called it everything, but I think innocence is bliss, man, because I just got a kick out of it. I thought it was a hoot."

He who hoots last, hoots best. After more than two decades of searching for his creative element while playing behind everybody from Was (Not Was) and Patti Smith to Tom Jones and Anita Baker, Resto, at 41, is howling all the way to the credit union. A collaboration with the biggest rap star on Earth led to co-production honors on three tracks on the 8 Mile soundtrack and co-writing credits for eight songs, including the single "Lose Yourself," which spent twelve weeks at No. 1. "That was my biggest thing so far," Resto says innocently.

And now he can forever attach the title "Academy Award-winning songwriter" to his name. Yet he refuses to lose himself in the music or the moment. My gig with Marshall (Mathers, the name on his driver's license, never Eminem or Slim Shady) is kind of as tech geek." Resto says modestly, "knowing how to work all the machines. Sometimes my name has been 'The Mad Scientist' because I'm always looking for bleeps and bloops."

It's a role he comes by honestly, says Don Was, the Grammy Award-winning producer and Oak Park native who added Resto to the late, outlandish party/fusion band Was (Not Was) when the keyboardist was still in his teens.

"Luis is the first person I met who made the synthesizer his primary instrument," Was says from his Los Angeles home. "He's a great piano player but that's a secondary occupation. When he came in, the screws on his Oberheim weren't even fastened down because he'd go in there and mess around with the internal stuff. He knew how to fix it, how to play with the circuit board and get different sounds out of it. His arrangement ideas were as a synthesist.

"At the time it made him a radical, and now he should be seen as one of the founding fathers of a whole genre of music. And he can play anything; he played violin on "Wheel Me Out". I think he's a total genius."

Born in Ann Arbor as the first-generation son of Puerto Rican parents, Resto credits his guitar-playing brother, Mario, for fueling his interest in music, and two summers at the Interlochen Center for the Arts for cementing his passion for keyboards. While composing and recording his own music, Resto co-founded an ad agency, Monster Music, to support his wife, Colleen, and children Kyle and Olivia.

Two years ago Joel Martin, the veteran Detroit producer and studio owner, called Resto to ask if he'd like to assist Eminem with some session work.

"I've worked with a lot of people, but I've never heard anyone who's as good a writer as Marshall," Resto says. "the way he can set up a word picture and present it is riveting. And he's got all these melodies in his head that continually amaze me. I'll be listening to ideas he has or I'll just be improvising, waiting for something to come out that intrigues him. That's kind of the flow of my day: writing, geeking, writing, geeking. That's what I do."

And two points he'd like to clarify about his Oscar appearance: One, because no one in the Eminem camp expected "Lose Yourself" to win (Mathers was asleep at home during the ceremony), Luis attended primarily to give Tito, the oldest of his three brothers, a thrill as his guest. He's a plastic surgeon in Vegas," Resto says. "He was like a little kid in a candy store, walking around and looking at all the actors."

Two, the outfit wasn't his; Don Was dressed him for success. "I was ready with a very flamboyant red suit from Thailand," Resto says. "But Don went into his closet and said, 'You can't get lost in the shuffle; you're a musician.' So he started pulling out pieces, and every one had a story. The jacket was given to him by (Bon Jovi guitarist) Richie Sambora. The shirt was a present from Ringo Starr. Then he took out the Pistons jersey and goes, 'Man, if you guys win and you're in that jersey, Detroit will love you forever.'" - By Jim McFarlin - Hour Detroit - July 2003


With an All Music Guide listing steadily moving towards 200 entries, Luis has amassed a voluminous list of credits with relatively little fanfare. He has surreptitiously played/produced/written songs for some twenty-five Top 5 album releases in the past ten years, some fifteen of which reached the coveted Number 1 position on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.

Mario Resto is an accomplished writer and musician with two independently released discs (Scenes From The Reality and Radio) under his own name. Luis credits Mario as his inspiration to become a musician.

Paul Nowinski played New York club dates with the legendary Les Paul for eight years. After being introduced to Keith Richards at one of the Iridium jam sessions, Paul spent more than a year and a half playing and recording with the Stones guitarist at his Connecticut home. He has also recorded and/or toured with Rickie Lee Jones and Hubert Sumlin.

Keith LeBlanc first came to notoriety from his work as part of the Sugar Hill house band, recording on early hip-hop tunes such as the Sugarhill Gang's "The Rapper", Grandmaster Flash's "On The Wheels Of Steel." He's a core member of Tackhead; produced, mixed or remixed music by Nine Inch Nails, Afrika Bambaataa and Living Colour; and played drums/percussion on albums by Annie Lennox (Diva); R.E.M. (Green), Seal (Seal); Tina Turner (Wildest Dreams); Depeche Mode (Ultra); and ABC (How to Be a...Zillionaire!) and many others.



One of the most creative and diversely accomplished musicians currently working in Detroit. Resto's musical textures, unmistakably recognizable, were highly influential in the development of the groundbreaking Detroit avant-funk ethos of Was (Not Was).

A highly acclaimed and in-demand Detroit session musician, Luis has played in support of artists such as Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, Stevie Nicks, and the legendary Highwaymen (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson & Johnny Cash).

He has also collaborated with Marshall Mathers on every Eminem album since "The Eminem Show", composing & arranging music for the hugely successful "8 Mile" film and co-wrote 8 songs for the soundtrack album. The smash single, "Lose Yourself," became the most successful single of Eminem's career; 12 weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, garnering Resto, Eminem & Jeff Bass both an Oscar & a Grammy for their efforts.

His new album, "Combo De Momento", showcases Resto's eclectic compositional style, a potent hybrid of rock, jazz, electronica & soul, fleshed out by his superb performing lineup of Mario Resto on guitar/percussion; Paul Nowinski on acoustic bass & the renowned Keith LeBlanc on drums.

Highly pedigreed, the band's experience & skill in the craft of recording is firmly evidenced on the studio side of "Combo De Momento". Edgy sci-fi retro-soul ("Effigy") flows seamlessly into jazzy, circa 1959 ambience ("Olivia") before morphing into the celebratory high-life inflected "Olivia Bop". The vibrant freshness and improvisational ferocity of the band's performing chops is stunningly evident on the B-side of the album, recorded at a club date during the band's performing nascency.

"Combo De Momento" is a powerful testimonial to Resto's drive, creativity & perseverance. This is the real deal: classic Detroit music, circa 2010, clearly alive & well.