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JFS #110 The Ozzie Ahlers Interview….















he state of New Jersey is situated perfectly between two musical Meccas. The soul brotherhood of Philadelphia and the Big Apple. Musicians who were lucky enough to grow up in this state were privy to the sounds of Dionne Warwick, Sigma Sound Studios and the vibrant African Jazz foothold that was beginning to take root in New York.

My guest today took in this music and immediately began to cultivate his own sound. This individualistic streak was the catalyst for his Band The Wizards and Oz which evolved as a live playing band hitting the each coast college circuit.

My guest honed his chops on Stage and became comfortable as a singer and a multi-instrumentalist.  After high school he found his way to Ithaca is gorges @ Cornell University where he formed another college circuit band called Oz and Ends. Utica, Rochester, Syracuse, Providence, Burlington you name it the Oz was there. Somehow he found time to complete his studies and graduate but not before he formed a new band called Glory River which was eventually signed to Jimi Hendrix' electric lady land label.

After experiencing the regional music scene of upstate, NY he headed west to California where he wound up working with two of the best vocalists in modern music - Van Morrison and Jesse Colin Young.

Stints with Peter Rowan and Gene Clark was followed by a collaboration with Robert Hunter and Comfort. It was @ this time that he caught the attention of John Kahn and Jerry Garcia who saw his electric keyboard wizardry as a new and fresh sound compared to the half dead acoustic player that Keith Godchaeux had become. My guest was part of the JGB quartet from late '79-1980. While it may not be the longest tenure of any keyboardist the power of the group and Jerry's adherence to some sobriety lent itself to some remarkable live performances that have been released commercially. Just in the last month March 1st 1980 in Passaic was sent into the digital processor for the masses to enjoy.

My guest has always tried to play across the musical spectrum. Be it reggae, jazz, new age, movie soundtracks or tv shows and his continued growth spawned a commercial DVD entitled keyboards made simple....living on the edge Ozzie Ahlers welcome to the JFS.