bandzilla - the players
Richard Niles spills the beans on who’s on this record.
This album has been a dream for so long that holding the CD in my hot little hand feels like… well, a dream! Perhaps the most magical part is the list of names on the back. Each one is a masterful performer and I’d like to introduce them to you. I’ll just take the names in the order they appear on the cover, which was chosen randomly when I sent them to our designer.
It’s actually fitting that Kim is first on the list. This is a militantly eclectic record. I did not ‘tame my pen’ or spare any horses, so you’ll hear jazz, funk, rock, soul, pop, country, ballads and blues.
Yet people have commented that it all sounds like the same band. And I think (and I’m not alone) the reason for that is the incredible voice of Kim Chandler on almost every track. Her crystal clean sound permeates the album, whether singing lush harmonies as a backing vocalist or as lead vocalist or sharing lead vocals with the other singers.
Australian Kim has been a top vocal coach for years, working with singers from Courtney Love to Sarah Brightman. She has performed in the studio and live with The Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, Natalie Cole, Björk and Michael McDonald and has worked on The Voice UK. She has been musical director and arranger for choirs for Barry Manilow, Michael Bolton and Rick Astley. She was recently president of the British Voice Association. www.kimchandler.com
As a trumpet player and composer, Randy has been a major influence on jazz since the 1960s. He has recorded with a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Clark Terry, Steely Dan, the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.
In 1967, Randy ventured into jazz-rock with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears, but left to join the Horace Silver Quintet. His first solo album, Score, in 1968, featured his 19-year old brother Michael.
After a stint with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers he formed the seminal fusion group Dreams. Later he worked with Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, Stevie Wonder and Billy Cobham.
In 1975 he formed Brecker Brothers Band, a band of immeasurable impact garnering seven Grammy nominations between 1975 and 1981. He released a number of acclaimed solo albums that have brought more acclaim and more Grammys.
In 2001, Randy released Hangin’ in the City, a solo project which introduced his alter-ego Randroid, a skirt chasing, cab driving ne’er do well, with lyrics and vocals by Randroid himself. I asked Randy to bring Randroid out of retirement and, lucky for me, The Randroid accepted the challenge by singing “You Can’t Get There From Here” for Bandzilla. The Zilla is grateful. www.randybrecker.com
With 16 worldwide Top Ten singles (the first 7 in a row in the UK) the best word for Leo Sayer is ‘popstar’.
Hits such as When I Need You, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, How Much Love and Thunder In My Heart helped define the sound of the 1970s. He is still touring constantly around the world. His voice can soar with rock passion and float gently on sensitive love songs. But more importantly, Leo is a dynamic performer who knows how to connect emotionally with an audience.
I had a great time as his Musical Director for his British TV series back in the 70s and am very happy that he agreed to join the Zilla for my rocky rant for individualism, “This World Is Mine”. www.leosayer.com
I’ve seen Miss Jones and she is an explosively dynamic performer. The Nashville born soul powerhouse has performed all over the world with artists in gospel & soul including Sly Stone. She now sings with her group,
The Rebirth. She was the perfect voice for a song I wrote with R&B legend, Deniece Williams, Stone Jungle. http://baskervillejones.com/
LAMONT DOZIER JR.
The son of legendary Motown songwriter/producer Lamont Dozier (Holland-Dozier-Holland) grew up in the Motown studios with Uncle Marvin and Uncle Smokey. Lamont is not a soul singer. He IS soul. Based in Los Angeles, he has performed all over the world to critical acclaim. He has shared the stage with such performers as The Temptations, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin and Rick Braun. He has also worked on shows featuring Jennifer Hudson, and Jay Leno.
Working with Lamont brings a wealth of tradition and passion to the song Love Don’t Mean A Thing. His beautiful voice is a reflection of the man inside!
JULIA SUZANNA SOKOLOWSKA
She may have a long name but she also has a long list of talents including singing, arranging, composing and piano playing. Born in Poland, Julia is making a name for herself on the LA scene writing music for film and TV and runs an organization known as Hollywood Arrangers. http://www.juliasokolowska.com/Julia_Zuzanna_Sokolowska/Home.html
Influenced by Jazz and R&B, Julia performs with style on Talkin’ In Whispers and The Alligator Fron West 15th.
Talented young Daisy sings like an angel, a fact that qualified her for being a member of the group All Angels, the British crossover classical vocal group that sold over a million albums. She is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, contributing music to many TV and film projects. She has since performed extensively as in jazz and as a member of folk/pop group 3 & Me. I came up with the idea of the song Tip For A Toreador while watching Daisy sing at London’s Pizza Express Jazz Club. It is literally a dream come true to hear her sing it!
Paola is a phenomenally talented singer, songwriter & pianist. She has won many awards including the Elton John Scholarship and the Yamaha Jazz Award. She's also singing on the new BANDZILLA album. Her performance on my song Welcome To My World captures the sophisticated tragi-comedy and louche cynicism of the song so well, I could almost believe she wrote it! http://www.paolavera.com/
Nigel has justifiably been considered a master of the saxophone from the age of 12 when he became lead alto sax for Britain’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra. At 16 he became a top studio musician and at 18 he joined the virtuosic group Itchy Fingers. He has received many awards and toured the world ever since with a dazzling array of artists including Tom Jones, Cleo Laine, James Brown, Robbie Williams and The Spice Girls.
Nigel is also a fine composer and has recorded with orchestras and jazz artists such as Mark Nightingale and Laurence Cottle. He has recently toured with Incognito, George Michael and currently with Mark Knopfler.
Nigel was a member of the original Bandzilla and has worked extensively with me on projects for Ray Charles, James Brown and The Pet Shop Boys. In my 40 years as a professional I can say with accuracy that his musicianship is unparalleled… and unbelievable! http://nigelhitchcock.com/
Mark is considered one of the finest jazz trombonists of all time. He has released many albums of his own compositions. He has worked with many jazz icons including John Dankworth & Cleo Laine, Urbie Green, Ray Brown, Michael Gibbs and Clark Terry. He has also been a 1st call studio musician in London recording with Steely Dan, Elton John, Tom Jones, Sting and with me performing for Cher, Tina Turner and The Pet Shop Boys.
He played all the trombone parts on BANDZILLA RISES!!! and solos brilliantly on The Alligator From West 15th and This World Is Mine. www.marknightingale.com
My co-producer and friend John is one of those people who makes things happen. That explains why he has played on hundreds of pop, rock, and jazz recordings. Through the 1980s and early 1990s he was on at least one album in the UK Charts continuously, without a break, for over 13 years. In 2009 he had two consecutive UK No.1 singles with Pixie Lott and was the first person to be inducted into the Musician's Union Hall of Fame. In 2015 he scored his 22nd UK No.1 playing on Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk. In jazz he has performed with the Buddy Rich and Gil Evans big bands.
He has also worked with Level 42, Rod Stewart, Queen, The Who, Jeff Beck, Lionel Ritchie, George Michael, Jamiroquai and with me on sessions for Swing Out Sister, Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, The Pet Shop Boys, Cher, Was Not Was, Kiri Te Kanawa and Tina Turner. He also played trumpet in the original Bandzilla. This album would not exist without his passion & intellect. www.johnnythirkell.com
Steve’s ability to create music of passion and intellect has been acclaimed worldwide. He has worked with Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Charles, Pee Wee Ellis Assembly, Joe Lovano, Kurt Elling, Fred Wesley, Bob Sheppard, John Scofield, Gary Burton, Joe Locke, Van Morrison, Dennis Rollins, Martin Taylor, Carol Kidd, and The NDR Big Band and has appeared on over 40 CDs to date. He has consistently made magic for me on many projects throughout the years. Steve is currently touring with Billy Cobham throughout Europe.
Clarice Assad is breathtakingly talented, Grammy nominated Brazilian composer, singer and pianist. Her amazing orchestral & chamber works have been performed in concert halls around the world. I am thrilled that she agreed to perform on the new BANDZILLA RISES!!! album. She does the eerie, wordless voice solo on Tip For A Toreador. http://www.clariceassad.com/
Ed played alto & tenor saxes and clarinets for Bandzilla. He wrote a book of transcriptions, The Solos Of Nigel Hitchcock and teaches saxophone online. He has toured with George Michael, worked in the London and L.A. studios. He is an arranger and composer and has released a solo album Simple Truth. Ed also released a pop single with his sisters Annabelle and Eloise, THE BARKERS. He also has a lovely Xmas album called "Are You Listenin'?' www.edbarker.com
Baritone virtuoso and composer Tini has won several awards, most recently the Deutshcher Musikautorenpreis. She has performed with several artists including Incognito, Dr. John, the NDR Big Band and MTV Unplugged. She also performs regularly with her own band MAXSAX featuring Nigel Hitchcock. http://www.tinithomsen.de/
Mike did a superb mix of the complex BANDZILLA RISES!!! album. He also played a few baritone notes and a few percussion things we added in the mix. He plays all the saxes, woodwinds and the Yamaha Wind Synth. He has worked with artists including Jeff Lorber, Jeffrey Osbourne, Lulu, Roy Ayers, Simply Red and Joey Negro. From Los Angeles he broadcasts his Mike Parlett Radio Show on Solar Radio from his state-of-the-art facility Talented Studio and directs the acclaimed Psych Big Band. www.parlett.net
Garrett has played upright and electric bass with many artists including Art Blakey, Barbra Streisand, Billy Preston, Cal Tjader, Dave Grusin, Diane “Deedles” Schuur, Laurindo Almeida, Lee Ritenour, Michael Feinstein, Michael Hedges, Ravi Shankar and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. He also plays with Adam Kaplan in The Richard Niles Trio. http://www.garrettwolfe.net/
Ian has led his own bands with players such as Guy Barker and Dave O’Higgins and performed with artists such as Michael Brecker, Martin Taylor, Nigel Kennedy, Georgie Fame and The City Of Birmingham Symphony with Simon Rattle. His World’s Greatest Drummer concerts have featured him performing with masters such as Steve Gadd, Gary Husband, Keith Carlock and Steve Smith. He plays in an acclaimed trio with guitarist Ray Russell and bassist Mo Foster. Thanks, Ian, for piloting the BANDZILLA album to a safe landing! http://www.ianpalmer.com/
Adam plays piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute, saxophones and keyboards throughout Orange County. He also makes his own unique percussion instruments such as the ‘Lascivious Lobster Pot’ and the ‘Wonderful Woodblock’. He performs regularly with Pi, Michael Ryan and The Richard Niles Trio. http://adamkaplanmusic.com/
Kurt has played drums & percussion professionally for over 30 years. He has toured all over the world and worked with artists such as Larry Carlton, Andre Crouch, Philip Baily and Michael W. Smith. He has a mind-boggling collection of instruments making weird and wonderful noises. He is pictured above playing some of them in my studio! He teaches in Orange County.
Alex is a musician and actor attending the Orange County School of Arts. He has appeared in many commercials and does stand-up comedy. Summer 2016 he played a leading role in Distant Vision, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He plays keyboards and sings with the band Quartet 5, playing throughout Orange County. He is currently 14 years old, but does not expect that to last.
James has won many awards and plays a variety of tuned and untuned percussion. He performs works by many composers and is very active as a teacher. He has performed with Tala Rasa Percussion, Red Fish Blue Fish, The Santa Monica Symphony, Opera Moderne, the Michigan State Wind Symphony, the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps., and the Interlochen All-State Orchestra, as well as being a featured soloist with the Michigan State University Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras, the Contemporary Chamber Players, and at the Stony Brook Day of Percussion. http://www.jamesbeauton.com/
Known primarily as a composer and arranger, I have played guitar live and in the studios since my career began in 1975. I released 2 guitar-ish albums, Santa Rita and Club Deranged featuring artists such as Kid Creole, Chris Hunter, Nigel Hitchcock, Hamish Stuart, Steve Hamilton, Danny Gottlieb and Mark Egan. I only played about 3 notes on the first Bandzilla album, Blue Movies, but played a few more in Katalyst (with singer Kat Gang) and The Richard Niles Septet (with Ed Barker and Clive Dunstall). I played a lot of them on BANDZILLA RISES!!! and hope to find some more good ones. www.richardniles.com
The Goat, (A.K.A Dr. Goat Foot and Goatious Foot) is a phenomenal bass player, composer and programmer. He also is an acclaimed photographer and video maker on the London scene. His company is known as www.goatnoisephotography.com He therefore created many unusual noises for BANDZILLA.