Greasy ChickenA TAMMIES RUNNER-UP last year, Greasy Chicken is climbing the Tucson Area Music Awards ladder of success. Leader and guitarist Nick Luca credits their "rigorous gigging schedule" for their TAMMIES honor. The band's versatility didn't hurt, either.
"We play every week at Coffee Etc. as an acoustic trio, then go to Club Congress or The Rock doing a more modern sounding fusion thing," Luca explains. "We go from playing jazz standards to playing an all original set based on Hip Hop and fusion. Probably why we did well in the TAMMIES is that we got exposure in a variety of settings."
The band members' musical inspirations vary as well. "Marco Rosano (tenor sax) comes from old time jazz: Sonny Rollins, Erroll Garner. I come from the next stage: Miles and Coltrane," Luca assessed. "Then again, I like a lot of guitar-oriented fusion. Our new drummer Dave Gold originally played in ska and Reggae bands. His biggest influence is probably The Police, but he's also into contemporary jazz. Ron Malleis (bass) comes from jazz and Hip Hop basslines--what's going on today in rap music and dance music.
"Another big aspect of our group's success is that we really play off the audience. We assess the situation when we get there. We have well over 100 songs at our disposal and we don't write a set list until we're there," Luca says. "At Club Congress or The Rock we'll play a certain amount of dance music. At Coffee Etc. we'll play to the crowd and play 'Satin Doll' and 'Makin' Whoopee.' It's good to have a healthy balance. That's what you do when you're a working musician."
A couple years ago, the band began as a duo working for tips on the street. It grew into a quartet when the band began to play clubs such as the Rusty Lantern and Land of the Pharaohs on Downtown Saturday Night. Now they're going to get their act together and take it on the road. With the strength of the TAMMIES win, their presence on the TAMMIES compact disc compilations and their own eight-tune demo tape, they plan to tour next January.
They financed their tape with their tip money and plan to underwrite their tour the same way. But, with the name Greasy Chicken, it can be difficult to book an engagement in a restaurant.
"In dealing with clubs like Cafe Sweetwater, we'll call ourselves the G.C. Trio or G.C Quartet to keep from giving the restaurant a bad name," Luca says.
The name originated with a former band member who suggested that they play the jazz standard "Have You Met Miss Jones" in a sleazy striptease style. "He said to envision a greasy chicken with a towel," Luca recalled. "The name kinda stuck."
WITH HER TAMMIES honor this year, last year's Best of Tucson win and a successful album to her credit, it's fair to say that Lisa Otey is Tucson's favorite chanteuse.
The sultry-voiced singer/pianist lists her influences as Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole. How does Elvis fit into this jazzy mix? "It's his laid-back style I like--reserved, sexy, subtle with lots of emotion packed into it," Otey explains.
Her debut recording release, Blame It On My Youth, has been well-received in the press and has been selling well, she says. Although her album features a trio and her TAMMIE win is under Jazz Group, she typically plays solo. As full-time musical director for Gaslight Theatre, she doesn't have much time to perform her solo act, but she can be found at clubs including Ain't Nobody's Biz (in Tucson and Phoenix), and Milagro in Tucson. She'll perform at the Juneteenth celebration in the late afternoon of June 17 at Kennedy Park and she'll be at Milagro, 3073 N. Campbell Ave., on June 19 from 7 to 10 p.m.
© 1995 Tucson Weekly