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Inspiration.  Where does it come from and what does it really mean?!?  Well obviously its going to be very different for everyone, but I thought I’d share where inspiration sometimes starts with me.  In this musical moment, I’m on a high after meeting and seeing Paul Gilbert perform at Guitar Center in San Francisco a few months back.  If you didn’t know, Paul Gilbert is a highly accomplished guitar player that has been on the music scene since the early eighties.  His blistering guitar work with Racer X gave him his “shred” status as a guitarist,  and soon after led him to start and  join one of the most successful 80’s bands Mr Big.  Gilbert still performs with Mr Big as well as being a solo artist, and recently has started a online music school.  All of these accomplishments are great, but the most inspiring thing about Paul Gilbert is his amazing attitude and demeanor.  The guy is just the nicest and coolest musician you could meet.   That’s just the icing on the cake for the inspiration.

The real inspiration for me took place during his 2 hour performance and clinic.  It was a perfect mix of Paul performing songs live and answering questions from the audience about music and his career.  One of the first things we all saw, was that Paul was not joined by professional musicians in his band, but by the guys who work at the local SF Guitar Center….how bad ass is that!  The drummer and 2 different bass players that rotated got to have a once in a lifetime  jam with Paul Gilbert….What a cool and   professional musician that has no pretensions about playing with new musicians he just met for a performance of his own…..Inspirational.

Now as Mr Gilbert went into his performance, some interesting things happened.  Most people were there thinking he would perform all his “shred” stuff,  which they assumed wrong!  He did the opposite.  Almost every song had lyrics, and whether it was classic rock or Steely Dan, the lesson here was about feel.  It was about being a complete musician.  To point out the mentality of the audience, they started laughing as Paul went into his Steely Dan song.  All the little minds were thinking “This guy is supposed to shred not play slow stuff and sing” and I was quite the opposite.  He was showing what its like to be a complete musician, doing what inspires him, and trying to get all the guitar players that sit at home and go “look at me” to think about what playing guitar and music really means.  Instrumental guitar player that performs Beatles and Steely Dan songs during his guitar clinic…..Inspirational.

For me, this inspiration started a flood of new music and creations.  As I write this, my debut album “Olympus Rising” is getting the art work/legal stuff  finished up and will be out soon at the beginning 2013.  I can’t wait to release it as its taken many years to get that up and out, but already I’m amazed to say I have 2 more albums almost completed.  I’m working on a new genre of music.  I’m working on the coolest stuff.  And its getting done nicely.  And since I found someone to mix the new albums, I’ll be able to focus on music and less on production stuff which suits me much better.   So the last few months have been super great from my artist’s point of view.  Sometimes its as simple as seeing a movie, a song, or hearing a phrase.   This time it was a once in a lifetime experience that gave me some MAJOR inspiration.  Thank you Paul Gilbert. You truly are……Inspirational.

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Here come those Santa Ana winds again”

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The 1st album to be discovered in “The Amoeba Files” is Lenny Kravitz’s Circus.  His 4th album released in 1995 was one of and still is,  one of my favorite cds to this day.  In my first years of college that thing got some major play and somehow after 15 years, it went missing!  After another infamous trip to Amoeba Music here in San Francisco,  I’m glad to say its back in my collection as I’m rediscovering the best Lenny Kravitz album ever.  Let me tell you why.

The album starts with the released single “Rock and Roll is Dead” which was a statement on the music scene at the time.  Its a decent rock song which really jams a couple minutes in.  Because it was one of the first riffs I learned on guitar,  I have some love for the song.  Sadly next, the only misstep occurs on the album.  The second song “Circus” kills the flow by being way too slow and a little mundane. A decent song, but my least favorite on the record.

Now this is the best part.  You could start the cd here as these four songs go soooo well together.  There’s something about albums that have great songs that just flow throughout.  That magic.  Starting with the cool rocker “Beyond the 7th Sky”, this is probably one of my favorite songs of Kravitz..  A sludgy head-shaker, this is a truly awesome song.  “Tunnel Vision” keeps the pace up with a James Brown funk thing with some super sweet guitar playing in the leads and rhythms.  “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” is simply his best ballad and a great song to chill and reflect.  “Magdalene” keeps this cool vibe going playing as it twists and turns in this in-between rocker/acoustic piece.  Something almost timeless about these songs for me as I reflect and write this.  Good stuff.

The album slows down with “God is Love” which is a good song, but a little too slow and 2nd least favorite song here.

Circus gets back on track with the good vibes and wah wah guitar on “Thin Ice”.  “Don’t Go and Put a Bullet In Your Head” slows its down again, but the beat is so chill and listenable.  “In My Life Today” is another great chill song that has some great lyrics and instrumentation.  From suicide to love, Lenny makes these transitions in content almost unnoticed.   Some dramatic horns close the album with “The Resurrection” which like a few other songs, express Lenny’s faith in God and his message of love.  Some great stuff indeed, in fact in my opinion…his best.  Go back in your collection and spin Circus again, it wont disappoint.

       “I’m old enough to see behind me, but young enough to feel my soul”

Recently I’ve found a few really good excuses for myself to buy lots of music.  As a musician and guitar player, I always need to work on some cover songs and need the source material.  Also as a TRX fitness instructor, I like to play music in class and need to change it up all the time.  And really, I just love music old and new!  My collection has always been a source of joy, and adding to it is nothing but good times and inspiration waiting to happen for my guitar playing and life!  Downloading is fine when there is no other option, but I’m still into that collectable thing and love getting my cds!  Album info, pics and lyrics, and just having a copy better then mp3 form is enough for me not to change!

When I make one of these music buying trips, its usually to Amoeba Music here in San Francisco.  Amoeba Music has been one of the reasons I’ve stayed in San Francisco since I came here to go to SF State in 1999.  I love walking in and never knowing what I will leave with…but I always leave with something!  When I first shopped here, I was into LP’s and vinyl records and of course have always been a buyer of cds.  Recently I go to the bargain bin of cds and go crazy.  I get some stuff I was afraid to try, or just something I may have never given a chance in the first place.  Soundtracks are something I’ve always been into and always pick up a few of those as well.  I have a few artists I search specifically and return a happy man with new music from all over the spectrum.

Now I wish to share the best and most inspirational music I find with you!  It might be an old classic I discover, something new to my heart…..whatever may come you’ll get the stuff close to my heart!   Please enjoy “The Amoeba Files!!!”

 “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain”

A documentary I recently scored for PBS called “Roots in Canton” is picking up great momentum! Help keep it going by watching and recommending this great piece to friends and family, and a very big thanks from Tozzi!!!
 
Dear friends and supporters of D3,
 
Greetings! We just wanted to share an update on one of our most recent productions. 
 
“Searching for Roots in Canton” is now reaching over 140 PBS stations in over 40 U.S. States! We have been very encouraged and overwhelmed by the response from PBS programmers who have wished to air our program on their station. This program was a product of love and compassion by our entire team. 
 
We encourage you to to watch the show and let your friends and family know about our airing schedule if it is listed in their city. There are upcoming airing dates during 4th of July and in mid and late July in some regions of the U.S. so check out the most recent schedule to see if it is airing near you!
 
The airing schedule for our show is in the attached document or can be found at:
 
We hope this message finds you well and we wish you all the best!
 
Sincerely,
 
The D3 Production Team
 

http://www.D3MediaGroup.com

 

It was 1983.  Star Wars peaked and my mind never came back from space travel.  Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” music video changed the chemistry of my brain the instant I watched it.  Michael Jackson was becoming legendary as “Beat It” tore up the charts with a little riff his buddy Eddie Van Halen supplied, making me realize just how cool Michael Jackson really was.  The A-team and G.I. Joe we’re my TV/cartoon heros and recreating those scenes with fake guns in the country was a daily ritual.  This led to my favorite toys of all time…..the 3 3/4″ GI Joe and Star Wars action figures started an obsession that hasn’t stopped after almost 30 years!

Somehow all these youthful and naive memories remind of a good time.  A simple time.  A time never to be had again but to be cherished.  I’m lucky to have these good memories.  Recently I found myself in writing mode,  and decided I wanted to write a new musical piece that had a great energy to it.  I needed a theme, but lacked an idea until it hit me.  Go big.  Go for a great feeling.  What’s a good feeling?  Well think back to a good year, a great year, no the best year.  Where did I land…at 1983.

So here I am, brewing up something really cool when my good friend Jamie Ray Wright gives me a call. Its perfect timing.  Poetic and incredibly fanciful this connection is.   It always seems to be that way with Jamie, and thats truly what working with someone professional is like.  Someone dedicated to their craft and willing to sacrifice almost everything to see it to the end.  Jamie is a choreographer in SF and we’ve worked together on three great projects and this will be our fourth in five years.  As creator and Artistic Director for the Dance Wright Project in San Francisco, Jamie has built up a strong group of dancers that share that same passion for dance that he does.  I started working with Jamie in 2008 for his piece “Sacred Femme” out of chance.  Selected by a company that puts dancers and musicians together, I was to collaborate with other choreographers.  And I did.  And it sucked.  They were horrible communicators, and honestly I believe they didn’t have it together and sure enough, they dropped out of the event.  As fate would have it, Jamie was given a bad connection as well.  As alternates we were connected and it couldn’t have worked out better.  As a musician and fellow rocker, I was able to connect nicely with Jamie and him with me.   When you have an idea where someone is coming from, its much easier to get to the same solution I’ve found.  “Point of Parity” was selected as the music for “Sacred Femme” and my introduction to ballet began.

So what does this mean for the song “1983”?  Well after talking to Jamie, I knew just what type of song I needed to create.  It has to have that great epic feel with a good vibe, AND just be a more dramatic in parts.  I thought what would be a cool song and a cool theme for Jamie and the dance he creates around it?  It was a very easy process.  Before I could even think I spoke “Heavy Metal ballet”!  And the rest came quick.  The “chuck-chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk” parts.  A cool rhythm guitar.  Cool little leads.  A very cool tapped solo.  A nice bass underneath it all with a little synth here and there.  Then I change it totally up and go into something really pretty and beautiful just to mess with you.  Jamie has been very happy with the song and has set the choreography already, and the piece already looks amazing in this early process I must say.  We’re all going big.  And different.  And oh yeah, I’m busting out my new white alpine Flying V on this performance.   My song “1983” is already one of my best songs and I can’t wait to debut it Sept 14th and 15th in SF@Dance Mission Center with the beautiful choreography and story by Jamie Ray Wright performed by the talented DanceWright Project!

“Burning the ground, I break from the crowd , I’m on the hunt I’m after you”

For more information about Jamie and his dancers you can go to his website at:

http://www.dancewright.com/

Loneliness Creeps…..

Maybe its because it was my first guitar,  but I’ve loved Squier products since day one.  Back in 1994 it was the perfect way to get into guitar playing with a decent instrument that didn’t cost too much.  I was able to play a guitar that looked and sounded like my favorite guitar heros Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour,  and that was simply good enough for me.  I could even upgrade my pickguard easily and customize the look for just a few bucks.  But after some time, I craved more out of my guitar.  I wanted to be able to use my whammy bar and have the guitar stay in tune.  I wanted a different tone.  I wanted a fat humbucker sound.  The “cheap” Squier had served its purpose and as a guitar player that had put in a few years, I was deserving of a upgrade I told myself.  If your a “real” musician, you play a “real” Fender, or Ibanez, or Gibson, etc..  And so I moved on.  To the other side.  The better side.  At least I told myself that.

After 10+ years of experience in SF band rehearsals at Lennon Studios,  live gigs with numerous different bands around the city and state, scoring /performing/collaborating with other local and foreign artists, scoring PBS documentaries, and even staring in my own PBS documentary I was so lucky to be apart of,  I’ve came to the conclusion there is no other side.  Everyone is just caught up in the label hype.  Being a “I’m a cooler home musician/forum guy then you cause I have the best gear and or I’m a wanna-be rock school student with the coolest model guitar” is a sad but true trend thats actually been around for quite awhile.  Thats partly what inspired this post.  I’m here to dispel those bad rumors and let “new” and “experienced” musicians know they can get everything they want from the new Squire models.  And with a little study, the older Squier models can be easily modified into quality musical instruments as well.

Which leads me to my bass story.  A quality bass has always eluded me.  My first and only bass was a Ibanez SB 305.  At the time I had just started getting into home recording and needed a bass to record with.  I had to trade in a cheaper used Joe Satriani Ibanez model which killed me back then, but I did it and had a bass at least!  At the same time, I was offered a chance to tour with my good friends in Damage the Dream and played bass for them for about a year.  The bass did a good job, but I thought is was always missing something…..I used the bass on a few demo songs,  but knew I needed something better to record with.  Thats where having good friends with good taste comes in handy.

On my debut instrumental album Olympus Rising(coming out this Summer/Fall 2012) I was very fortunate to borrow and record with a 90’s G+L Bass from my friend and fellow musician Mark Savoy.  It sounded truly amazing, and was a terrific bass.  That strong Fender P Bass sound came out of that beast nicely! !  As I recently started working on my new album, I realized I needed that sound again.  WIth little money and short on time, getting something of quality at a good price was a priority.  Being a guitar player, I much rather spend my money on a new guitar anyways!  But then I saw reviews popping up more and more about the new Squier’s and it got me interested.  I thought, lets give it a shot.  I’m so glad I did because I ended up falling back in love with Squier.

Almost 20 years later I just purchased my 2nd Squier and I’m so glad I did, because I ended up falling back in love with Squier.  Its a Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special in 3-color sunburst, and as you can see its beautiful.   Made in Indonesia, it has a silky smooth neck which feels terrific in your hands and was set-up well right out of the box.  It has an incredible sound plugged in the stack and honestly, is simply a joy to play acoustically because it has such a cool sound.   WIth both P and J Bass pickups, its got a great variety of tones that sound strong and rumble nicely.  Simply put, this Jag sounds and plays like an American Fender P Bass that’s 5x its price.  Its a incredible value.  And its not just the basses,  as the guitars have come up in quality and selection as well with the Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified Series.  Go play one and knock yourself out in the sound!   I look forward to updating my collection of  new Squiers and actually have a used red Squier 94′ in my “shop” that  I’m working on which I’ll unveil here soon.  Tozzi personally endorses Fender Squire guitars and basses and you should too!  As always, peace & love-CT

“All you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be”

http://www.fender.com/squier

 

My name is Christopher Tozzi and I’m a musician who absolutely loves music.  I love listening to music.  I love making music.  This is a blog about the music I make,  the gear I use to shape my sound,  my influences and the artists I listen to,  and updates to keep you informed about future performances and collaborations.  Please join me as Olympus Rises…..                                                                                                    “Excuse me, while I kiss the sky”