Here’s an album that clearly has a statement to make. From its impressive list of contributors (which includes Tizer’s mentor, the illustrious Chieli Minucci of Special EFX, the marvelous violinist Karen Briggs, and an ace saxophonist in Steve Nieves I really find his work here compellingly able) to the handsome, crisp compositions, Lao Tizer et al. are obviously on a mission to convince listeners that good, original contemporary jazz can be delivered with such snap and class so as to make it virtually impossible to pass up. From the opening track, "A Night in the City," with its chatty and powerful sax work from Nieves and masterful accompaniment from Tizer and friends, I knew that I was in for a pretty satisfying listening experience of special note.
I and anyone listening to this splendid work would be remiss if no mention was made of the infectious piano work from Tizer and gripping violin of virtuoso Karen Briggs on the title track. The added treat here is also Nieves vocal demonstrations. The tunes just keep coming in all sorts of delightful arrangements, and all are identifiable as just plain good contemporary jazz performed by artists who know their stuff. Examples include the tantalizing, hook-rich, Latin-influenced track 6 "Olivas Adobe," featuring some smart acoustic guitar work from Jeff Kollman and Briggs’ ever-present romantic violin. This one begs for that deliberate and romantic salsa. From there, we get the funky "Summer Dayz," a familiar feel of funk and scat, but clearly Tizer’s own. Ah, and there’s the soothingly reflective and melodic "Autumn Sky." Tizer’s piano makes a clear and decisive mark on this piece and beckons you to gaze at that sky, especially on a clear night. Next up is the atypical timing of the fusion piece "Namaste" along with its notable hook and Di Meola-like runs. A deeper peek into the diverse mastery of this young man. Of one final note: His lullaby-like "November" made it tough to focus and not drift off to a quiet, peaceful, euphoric place in dreamland... not from boredom, but from his coaxing to just let go.
Chieli Minucci is quoted in Tizer’s promo sheet as saying that Tizer "continues to grow as a young pianist, expanding his palette in a multitude of musical directions"; that "his band.... performs his compositions with a passion that demands to be caught live in concert." Well, count me in as part of that concert’s audience. I doubt that I’ll be disappointed. Neither will any of you who seek fresh ventures and perspectives from a young piano man who’s clearly here to claim his spot among the notables. I haven’t heard his previous release Golden Soul (which earned him much acclaim), but Diversify definitely convinces me that a listen is in order. Something tells me that we will hear much more from this gifted pianist and understand how he arrived at this point.