Ozzie Ahlers

Fingerpainting

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Hats off to longtime Craig Chaquico keyboardist Ozzie Ahlers for stepping out with a solo album not featuring the trademark sound of his longtime partner, one of the genre's most popular performers. His debut Fingerpainting rocks steady from start to finish with blues and funk influences drawn from a sideman career behind the likes of Jerry Garcia and Van Morrison. Gladly forgetting about strict airplay considerations, Ahlers writes instantly hooky, hypnotic melodies but performs them with an edge much rawer and more aggressive than most of his work on Chaquico's albums. When Ahlers chooses to aim for a smooth passage or two, he relies on the crack work of Peter White (who plays steel string on the energetic title cut) and Jimmy Dillon, who adds slide guitar excitement to a strut down "Bourbon Street." While most of Ahlers' sensibilities seem to be traceable back to '60s pop, he shows a remarkable facility for true jazz improvisation on the closing track "Morningstar."

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