POSTED ON JULY 18, 2012:
All About Soul
Saxophonist brings soul to the Jazz Hall's summer concert series
When Myron Oliver appears as part of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame's summer concert series, he'll be bringing a cross section of pop, jazz and soul to the Tulsa Depot as all his influences converge in one place.
You see, although Oliver is a rising sax player on the local jazz scene, that's not his only love or focus. Yes, he's a regular participant in the Tuesday night jam sessions held every week at the Jazz Hall and he sits in everywhere and everywhere he can, appearing with everyone from Leon Rollerson to Olivia Duhon in different locales around Tulsa. He has his feet in other projects as well, however, playing sax and keys, as well as rapping in local cover band Jet Set Kings and even fronting his own group, Fuzed, which is just starting to gain traction on the local cover scene.
In fact, Fuzed is possibly the most promising of Oliver's projects as the band formed over the winter and had its first gig within four weeks of coming together. After playing a few private parties, the group is now getting calls to play the clubs and is starting to make its presence known.
In Fuzed, Oliver primarily plays keyboards and sax, along with some singing, but the group is rounded out by bassist Todd Shaver, drummer Erin Nelson, lead guitarist Ryan Tedder and not one, but two female lead vocalists: Tylisha Oliver (Myron's wife) and Tina Johnson (both of whom are also currently singing with Eric Himan too). As Oliver explained it, Fuzed mixes pop and rock tunes with other dance tempo material and covers everything from the '70s to current tunes for an all dance set.
Although that seems like a bit of a side bar from Oliver's jazz gig at the Tulsa Depot this weekend, as Fuzed is not only Oliver's primary band outside of the jazz realm, that same group will be backing him this weekend as he delves into his jazz, blues and soul influences.
Although Oliver has been a regular at the Jazz Hall sitting in on the Tuesday night jam sessions, he will be headlining with his own performance on Sunday, July 22. Instead of playing a solo performance, however, Oliver is intent on sharing the spotlight with others and plans on having a number of guests join him on stage throughout the evening.
"I'll have a lot of local musicians sitting in with me," Oliver said, "because as I was trying to come up and establish myself there were a lot of great musicians in town that didn't even really know me that let me sit in. Now that I've got this opportunity, I want to do the same, with both some of the more established artists and some of the newer guys that are coming up now too."
When discussing this weekend's show, the list of potential guests was broad in scope, ranging from established and near legendary local musicians like Leon Rollerson and Rudy Scott to younger players like Keyboardist Brian Lee and percussionist Jose Canales and even young blues guitar whiz-kid Dylan Whitney and one of TU's latest jazz sirens, Sarah Maud. Vocalists Ryan Ripperger, Booker Gillespie (Oliver's band mate in Jet Set Kings), and Stephanie Oliver are also expected to make appearances throughout the evening, as well as guitarist Martin Perez and pianist Steven Schrag.
When looking at the diversity of styles and bands Oliver plays with, it's obvious that his taste is broad and he can cover and expanse of styles. This weekend's Jazz Hall show allows him to indulge in some of his favorites, however. When asked what to expect on Sunday, Oliver said, "It will be jazz and blues with a little neo-soul -- basically, all the music I grew up with."
"We'll play some pop standards like 'Summertime,' 'Georgia on my Mind' and 'Fly Me to the Moon' (which Myron said is one of his personal favorites, sung by his sister, Stephanie Oliver)," he said. "We'll also play some blues, like 'The Thrill Is Gone' by BB King and Miles Davis' 'All Blues.'"
The evening will also lean into the neo-jazzy soul of artists like Erykha Badu, Jill Scott and Eric Benet. "That's the tone I want to keep over the course of the evening," he explained.
"The song I look the most forward to, though, is 'Soulful Strut,' by Grover Washington Jr.," Oliver said. "I'm a big fan of his and have really tried to mold my style and sound to be like his."
That's a noble effort, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. Over this past winter, Oliver had the opportunity to play the National Anthem at an Oklahoma City Thunder game and was requested to be there two hours early for sound check. At the time, there were only three players warming up on the court, including James Harden and Serge Ibaka, along with Maurice Cheeks on the sidelines.
"It was sound check and no one was really there, so I really jazzed it up," Oliver told me. "Afterwards, all three walked up to me and complimented me, but the best moment was when Maurice Cheeks came up and said 'You sound just like Grover Washington Jr. You probably don't know who that is, but you sound like him.' We ended up having a long conversation about music, which was really cool because he was so down to earth."
Those compliments are just the beginning as Myron Oliver begins to step into the spotlight on the local music scene. He's got plans to work on his first record, with an eye at going in the bluesy and soulful direction that you'll hear at the Jazz Hall this Sunday night, July 22, at 5pm. You can also catch him Thursday night, July 19 at Los Cabos in Jenks with Fuzed.
Either way, Oliver is a man to keep your eye on as he promises to continue to grow and make a big impact on the local music scene as his reputation grows. Do yourself a favor and make sure and catch the show at the Tulsa Depot this Sunday evening (Tickets are $10 for general admission or $20 for reserved table seating), then keep your eyes out for him as he continues to appear around town with his own band and sitting in with friends like Olivia Duhon throughout the week.
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