Music motivates at the most primal level.
You instinctually hum a tune in order to get pumped up in the morning, for fuel on the treadmill, to soundtrack your commute, or as the pre-game to a big night out. As much as he treasures his roles as a guitarist, composer, and producer, Cory Wong fashions himself “a hype man,” first and foremost. Living up to this classification, he slings a Stratocaster and hurls “dad jokes” from the stage with the same panache, poise, and power.
“For me, it’s all about the listener’s experience,” he explains. “I want them to have a visceral response like: ‘I feel better,’ ‘That was really fun,’ or ‘I got to escape for an hour.’ You’ll hear my voice through the guitar, but I’m just a hype man. To uplift audiences with instrumental music that has no singing or lyrics is a fun challenge. I’m trying to solve the riddle. If I can get one person to feel good this way, it’s a success.
Straight out of Minneapolis, Cory positioned himself as music’s answer to motivational speakers like Tony Robbins since emerging in 2011. Head-spinning rhythm guitar wizardry, technical ebullience, laugh-out-loud jokes, and radiance on stage established him as both a sought-after collaborator and celebrated solo artist alike. He lent his talents to television programs such as The Voice at the dawn of his career. After an impromptu meeting at the weekly jam hosted by Prince’s rhythm section (where the Purple One often either performed or watched), he crossed paths with Vulfpeck who welcomed him as a frequent collaborator and member of the band. Solidifying a fruitful partnership, the group named their most popular instrumental track “Cory Wong,” in tribute. Lighting up the stage in the band everywhere from Red Rocks Amphitheatre to Madison Square Garden, he remains a cornerstone of Vulfpeck’s storied gigs.
Yamaha artist Dayramir González began his professional career as a pianist and composer with former Irakere member, Oscar Valdes’ Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Diákara at the age of 16. Since winning Havana’s JoJazz festival in 2004 and 2005, Dayramir has gone from winning three Cubadisco awards for his 2007 debut album “Dayramir & Habana enTRANCé” to becoming Berklee College of Music’s first Cuban national “Presidential Scholarship” recipient to performing in 15,000-seat stadiums with legends like Chucho and Bebo Valdes and headlining Carnegie Hall, representing the young generation of Afro-Cuban jazz.
The culmination of his journey as a young Havana-native who continues and brings the Afro-Cuban music legacy to New York is synthesized in his latest album “The Grand Concourse,” a name inspired by the thoroughfare that runs through the Bronx and a concept that reflects the uncommonly dynamic range of pieces from the pulsating West African bass motif found in Situaciones en 12/8 to the contemporary take on the classical Cuban tradition of the late 19th century to the haunting orchestral jazz ballad of Blood Brothers. Dayramir is making his mark as a leading international composer, orchestrator, bandleader and pianist.
THE LAO TIZER BAND
Elliott Yamin – vocals
Danny Janklow – sax
Stacey Lamont Sydnor – drums
Cheikh N’Doye – bass
Chieli Minucci – guitar
Weedie Braimah – percussion
Lao Tizer – keys
With more than five years since their last release, The Lao Tizer Band has taken the time to grow in every aspect. An updated larger band is exploring some new methods on their upcoming CD/DVD combo, Songs From The Swinghouse: recorded live in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood, the band explores three cover tunes with vocalist, a first for the group, alongside original instrumental tracks, bringing them to new heights of excellence and exuberance.
Featuring a thoughtful and at times surprising choice of tracks, while adding to an already stellar lineup of players with the addition of a seasoned vocalist, this is an album that has set a new path for the band and its dedicated fans. Songs From The Swinghouse features eight blistering original instrumentals and three iconic classic rock songs with reimagined arrangements. “We’ve never done any thing with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Tizer. Critically acclaimed music – film director, Andy LaViolette (Snarky Puppy, Bokante, David Crosby, etc), documented the entire session in a simultaneous, 8 camera HD video shoot for the included DVD.
The “Boysie” Lowery Living Jazz Residency is a two-week artist residency created to provide space to grow for the next generation of jazz artists who are both composers and performers. Residents will experience an intense learning experience designed to help them find their sound, mature as musicians, and make lasting connections with like-minded peers. Cityfest’s summer jazz residency received program development guidance from John F. Kennedy Center’s prestigious international jazz program – the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead project. Program sessions are led by the faculty who are selected from the rich pool of talented music professionals who reside, teach and work in the mid-Atlantic region.