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Tucson, Arizona, United States

Tucson, Arizona, United States
Band Pop Funk


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"Funk wizard Ozlo celebrates debut CD"

When the words "jazz," "funk" and "rock" come together, one name leaps to mind: Prince. But in the wake of his Purpleness' newfound association with the Jehovah's Witnesses (and his subsequent refusal to play his older, sexier material), a hole has been left in the world of sweat-drenched, ass-shaking, genre-bending jams.

Tucson's Ozlo wants to fill that hole.

"Music that other people write has definitely influenced me in my writing," said Ozlo, "but we're turning more towards originals as well because I just enjoy doing it more. We've only been together, basically, for this year. We're young, but we're planning on trying to put a bunch of new music out over the year."

Ozlo, a former trombone performance student, spent most of his life learning trumpet, piano, trombone and other instruments before a music scholarship brought him from Oregon to Tucson to attend the UA.

After dropping out and spending some time in Texas with funk combo Global Village, Ozlo returned to Tucson with the hopes of putting together a band whose sound would match his own songwriting style.

He was in luck.

"These guys were willing and able to start doing some touring and go on the road," said Ozlo of his quartet. "I played with all kinds of different guys over the years, and these are the guys who finally got it in the pocket."

At this point Ozlo is a veteran songwriter, having played and written music since he was a child. However, being a professional doesn't necessarily mean forcing your musicians to play only what you want to play.

"They each bring a little bit of themselves in the band," said Ozlo. "I try to leave a little bit of room for creative influence so they can bring something to the table. They basically play what I want, so I don't even have to say anything."

In a live setting this freedom of choice comes through, with the band running through loose funk jams, originals and classics of the genre, all led and organized by Ozlo's gritty baritone shout.

All of the gigging finally seems to be paying off for both Ozlo and his band. They recently completed their self-titled debut album, recorded at Allusions Studio in Tucson.

"This album is basically a collection of songs I've written over the last eight years," said Ozlo. "The album is all originals. We do enjoy doing covers, and doing all night shows, you have to do a lot of that to keep the kids into it. I've been doing a lot of writing. I've got a lot of jazz influence and stuff. I kind of dig that."

To celebrate the release of his first record, Ozlo is having a CD-release party at Plush tomorrow night. Joined by friends and fellow local acts the Matt Mitchell Trio, Mankind and the Deludes, Ozlo promises "a raging good time."

- Mark Sussman , Arizona Daily Wildcat

"Blizzard of Ozlo"


Ask any local musician or performer why they do what they do, and the answer is likely to be a blend of aspiration and necessity--an inexplicable need to perform and produce music, undergirded by the hope that their endeavor leads to some measure of success.
By implication, this means finding an audience. Ozlo, a native Californian (by way of Oregon) who came to Tucson on a trombone scholarship at the UA, is explicit about the importance of his public, such as it is. His Web site even features a section entitled Why Does He Do It?: "If you must ask / why I do what I do / I'll tell you ... it's because of you," reads the poem under that heading.

Out of another's mouth, such sentiment might ring silly. But it's clear from watching any given performance that Ozlo is sincere beyond reproof, even though his music is lighthearted and fun. He elaborates when asked what he finds most satisfying about being a working musician. "The feeling it gives me. Is that a lame answer? I don't know; there's just nothing like it," he says, while specifically noting his affinity for the stage. "Especially being on stage. It's another world that makes me lightheaded when I think of it. Weird, huh? (It's) indescribable."

Despite having actively participated in Tucson's music community for the better part of a decade, Ozlo is only now releasing his eponymous first solo album. This is largely owing to the time it's taken him to assemble the right cast of supporting players for his unique brand of good-time-charley, jazz-informed funk. "Years of searching," is how he describes his methodology in putting the right band together. "Over the last four years, I've played with a lot of people. I started playing with Jim Pavett, owner of Allusion Studios (where Ozlo was recorded and mixed) and a phenomenal drummer. He reintroduced me to Doug Floyd, guitar (player) extraordinaire. I knew Demetri Enriquez for years. The time was right, and he agreed to bring his fabulous fingers to lay down the bass. ... I can tell these guys are really on board; they're invested."

But just who is this Ozlo? In describing him, it's difficult not to reference Jack Black, a comparison that Ozlo himself embraces to an extent. He possesses similar looks, singing ability, physicality and humor. In point of fact, he performed the JB role when he covered Black's band Tenacious D for The 2003 Great Cover-Up. (An aside: that performance, along with vocal duties on Truck's set of Queen covers and Spacefish's interpretation of Iron Maiden, earned Ozlo recognition as a unanimous MVP for the event.)

More significant than any similarity to Jack Black, though, is Ozlo's musicianship. He possesses serious chops on several instruments stemming from a lifelong education in that which calms the savage beast. Aside from the trombone scholarship that brought him to the UA, there's an even deeper background. "As a kid, I took music lessons on piano, trumpet and then trombone. I sang in choirs. I really became serious in high school."

Musically serious, that is. Otherwise, somber moments are few and far. For instance, when asked about Sex Night, an Ozlo-hosted annual celebration of lust that's held at Plush, he wryly observes, "Sex is a natural thing. It brought most of us here."

Ozlo's signature is his inimitable, scat-informed vocal style that is heavily influenced by a performer he inexplicably reveres--Bobby McFerrin. Which, of course, raises the question, "What's up with that?"

"Have you heard him?" Ozlo demands. "He's a walking orchestra. He's my inspiration as a vocalist. I strive to be as talented as him one day. I'd love to study with him. Do you hear that, Bobby? I'll pay!"

It was in Oregon during his tender "band camp years" that Ozlo first caught the frontman bug, but it wasn't until an early '90s stint in the now-defunct local The Itsy Bitsy Spiders that he made the transition out of the horn section. "I played 'bone a few times in the band, but really was into fronting the band and putting on the show. (Plus) I enjoyed writing, (because) it was often a form of release or venting for me."

Subsequently, Ozlo was invited to audition for a Houston funk band called Global Village, and ultimately became their singer. "The funk is another love of mine I've had since early childhood. My two sisters, Marcy and Karen, turned me on to bands like the Ohio Players, Queen and K.C. and The Sunshine Band." This prepared him well for his time as a member of Global Village. "(It) was a blast to front (for Global Village). Those guys are a smokin' band and made me love the funk even more." But after one album and a couple years in Houston, Ozlo returned to Tucson to scratch his solo itch.

Since then, Ozlo has played in various combinations with a veritable army of musicians. The one constant seems to be his performing relationship with the guitarist Matt Mitchell, with whom he performs jazz on a weekly basis, usually as a recurring gig at some nightspot or restaurant or other (Bison Witches, where he works, and The French Quarter are but two of the many). And it's not all jazz or funk--there're very few styles he hasn't explored. "All music has influenced me. My sister Kathleen let me check out her Def Leppard and Night Ranger tapes. (And) you know I also like to rock!"

As for the new album, for which Ozlo and company will be feted on Friday at Plush, it's necessarily a greatest hits compilation of sorts, if for no reason other than it's the culmination of many years of songwriting. Fans will undoubtedly recognize Ozlo classics like "No-tel Motel" and "Windows Down" at the same time that the uninitiated respond with wide-eyed wonder (or so he hopes). Overall, Ozlo is the sound of the band and the man striving to put the "fun" in funk. But does the album (or the man, for that matter) ever get heavy?

"I ain't heavy! I'm yo' brother! Sorry. OK, seriously ... yeah. There are a few tracks on the album about serious things. 'So Very Happy' is about following your dreams. 'Take It All' is about the loss of life and how devastating it can be. 'So Much Time' speaks of the possibility of lost love. Those all were healing songs to write."

This modicum of depth makes Ozlo a party album that manages to avoid being glib. Similarly, it's Ozlo's obvious affection for an audience that strengthens his material, removing any pejorative connotation from "party funk band"--an accurate-enough descriptor of his vibe.

Ultimately, Ozlo simply wants to inspire and be inspired with music. The single most important aspect of his lifelong musical endeavor is "being able to share (music). Hoping it touches someone else like it does me. As long as I'm around, I'll be making music. It's my mission. To funk the world."

- By CURTIS MCCRARY, The Tucson Weekly



Age: 32

For the record: Ozlo is a man of many talents: guitarist, pianist, vocalist. Some nights you can find him singing smooth acoustic jazz at Tucson's French Quarter. Other nights he fronts his electrified self-titled funk band at Plush. The former UA trombone player has released CDs with bands in the past, but this month he will celebrate his first strictly Ozlo album: a funky, feel-good collection featuring songs like "No-Tel Motel" and "Dirty Larry."

How did you get interested in music? "From my Uncle Joe, actually. My folks bought a piano, and my dad's brother, Uncle Joe, sat down and taught me boogie-woogie. I learned it over the weekend and fell in love with it, so my parents started getting me lessons."

Who influences you most in your style? "My folks used to watch Lawrence Welk, and there was a guy who used to tap-dance all the time. They'd sit there and watch him, and I'd put my slippers on and dance around and kind of ham it up. As I grew older, I had two older sisters, and they would give me records anywhere from the Partridge Family to the Ohio Players. At the same time, my parents were listening to jazz musicians like Miles Davis. I started getting into singing more seriously and I started listening to more groove. Bobby McFerrin was definitely inspirational to me. Also Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and George Clinton. It's kind of a wide spectrum of different kind of styles."

What was your biggest on-stage nightmare? "I was at the French Quarter a few weeks ago, and a group of women came running, yelling, 'We want karaoke.' It had been like half a year since they had karaoke. One of the girls had a birthday, and she just walked up and grabbed the mic and said, 'You know it's this lady's birthday, and she's going to sing "I Will Survive." ' We knew the tune and I'm like 'Go ahead and hit it,' so we had 14 blond middle-age women who seemed like they really weren't really letting go of their youth on stage, shaking their butts for the crowd. It was hilarious."

If there was one person or band, alive or dead, you'd want to perform with, who would it be with and why? "Definitely Bobby McFerrin. I would love to do a show with this man. He's amazing just vocally. I saw him live in Portland years ago, and it was just him onstage. It was a three-hour show and he didn't take a break. He came out and literally just put this whole show together using just his voice. Then he included the audience and had them singing and clapping. It was just unreal. I love scat. That's where a lot of the stuff I've learned is from him - scatting and things like that."

There are several musicians who have done well for themselves using just one name, like Cher, Usher and Prince. Do you think using one name is one of the keys to success in the music business? "I don't necessarily know what the key to success is in the music business, but if it can help, I hope it does."

On your new solo CD, you have a song about the infamous No-Tel Motel. You describe a variety of risque acts you'd like to do there. Have you ever been to the No-Tel Motel? "I tried to go by there a couple of times, but every room has been full. It's a hopping place. Maybe when the album goes platinum, I can go celebrate at the No-Tel Motel." - Gerald M. Gay, Arizona Daily Star

"Ozlo is moving..."

Keep On Shuckin’ and Jivin’
--Benny “Mister Peppermint” Fleming

Ozlo is moving his “cracker funk” to Atlanta
by Jamie Manser

It will be a bittersweet farewell show at Plush on November 10 when Ozlo bids his musical adieu to Tucson as he sets his sails for Georgia.

Tucson’s loss is Atlanta’s gain: An energetic, infectiously positive and driven musician/performer that is ready to “spread the Ozlo Love” and take his career to the next level.

“Atlanta is a town of jazz, R & B, hip hop and funk. I’ve been going out there over the last five years; visiting family…I would go to shows. I felt like Atlanta was the best bet – I like that culture.

“I would just like to work with more jazz artists – to have more people to work with. I want to write more and meet more songwriters. I’d like to apprentice with some bands. It’s a bigger music industry town.”

As an artist who is striving to improve and make music his only fiscal gig, a change of locale to a scene that has more opportunities makes sense. Environment can be an informing and inspirational muse; the energy of a place insinuates itself into one’s being and is translated in their art.

Ozlo, who is probably the re-incarnation of an African-American musician, says he’s an inside-out Oreo. Friend Keith Green said Ozlo is the blackest white guy (or was it whitest black guy?) he knows. It shows in the funkiness of Ozlo’s sound and its booty movin’ groove.

“All of my favorite artists are African-American – it’s the soul, the tone.”

The influence came at the wee age of four when Ozlo’s Uncle Joe taught him Boogie Woogie on piano – which the lad learned in a weekend. He subsequently took piano lessons for six years and then took up trumpet in 6th grade – following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

“My grandpa was a San Francisco cop and played trumpet in the San Francisco police band.”

Add to the docket that the dude plays all the brass instruments – except French horn – picked up drums in high school; began singing in church choirs; his first singing solo was in 8th grade; and he came out to Tucson via a U of A trombone scholarship in 1990.

“I dropped out after four years. I worked odd jobs so I could do music.”

And music he did, fronting The Itsy Bitsy Spiders as Oslo B. Lovebottom in the nineties, and later put together Oslo B and The Grooves. In 1998, the musician moved to Houston to work his vocal chops for funk band Global Village.

“It was lots of different styles coming together really well. It was sad to leave, but I wanted to go solo. It was something I had thought about for awhile. I wanted to create my own destiny and I figured I had to be the one in charge to do it.”

When he came back to Tucson in 2000, Oslo morphed to Ozlo.

“Pretty soon I’ll be a symbol – a pot leaf with a microphone…and a piece of ham underneath it. Or maybe just a ham,” Ozlo said, giggling a little maniacally.

Ozlo loves the limelight - the world is his stage - and when he performs, it is all heart and soul that belt out his brand of funkified rock, or (his self-described) “cracker funk.”

Ozlo’s shows, be it with a full band and guest artists or only accompanied by resplendent jazz guitarist Matt Mitchell, are quite entertaining and chock-full of energy.

“Playing music, performing – it’s a love. There’s no other feeling than being on stage.”

Alas, the time has come for Ozlo to move to more fertile musical pastures and take the stages in Atlanta. He says he is looking forward to playing to different clubs and fresh ears and learning more about the music business. He also wants to produce, write songs for other people and get his label Shuck and Jive Records off the ground.

As with most that have experienced the Old Pueblo, Ozlo will take with him the town’s vibe and memories – a truth he knows when he talks about those who have inspired him locally.

“Tucson’s been really good to me. It’s a great town – everyone is so cool and friendly.

“I want to give love to everyone who I’ve ever played with, gotten me gigs, to the friends – I can’t mention names, there’s too many! A shout out to Demetri (Enriquez), Doug Floyd, and Jim Pavett (his band)…it’s going to be sad. I’m going to miss those guys.

“I’m going to come back to visit and play with those guys and it will be great!”

Don’t miss Ozlo’s buh-bye shindig at Plush on Thursday, November 10 with Spacefish and Matt Mitchell. Cover is $4. Keep tabs on the man, the musician at www.OzloLand.com.
- Jamie Manser


Ozlo fronted former band Itsy Bitsy Spiders self-titled album, Global Village's "Sugar What?" and Ozlo's self-titled album was released in 2005. All of these are still getting air play on public stations across the country and can be found online.



The newest addition to the Atlanta music family, Ozlo and his band bring their funk rock to the stage in full energy and flavor. Delivering a mix from acoustic funk to full on rock, Ozlo will titillate and entertain any crowd. After attending a show, some have described him as the love child back from the future of Dave Matthews and Jack Black. Give your patrons something fresh and new. Ozlo will give the crowd a good time and a great groove. Be one of the first in the Atlanta area to invest in this artist’s love of music and performance, and he’ll repay it ten fold. VISIT THE LAND OF OZLO...JOIN US...WON’T YOU?