The Dazz Band
About the Group
The Dazz Band grew out of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976 stemming from the jazz fusion band Bell Telefunk. Founded by Bobby Harris, The Dazz Band has performed since 1976 and continues to perform today. Original Kinsman Dazz/ Dazz Band members included Bobby Harris, (saxophonist, vocalist) Kenny Pettus, (lead vocalist, percussions) Isaac "Ike" Wiley, Jr., (drums) his brother Michael Wiley (bassist), and Michael Calhoun (songwriter/guitarist) . The group was originally named Kinsman Dazz at the suggestion of Ray Calabrese, who would later become the band's manager along with Sonny Jones, owner of The Kinsman Grill, located near the street Bobby Harris grew up on, and where the band worked as a house band.
Kinsman Dazz was signed to 20th Century Records in 1977 and the group expanded from the original quintet consisting of Harris, Calhoun, Pettus, and the Wiley brothers and added newcomers Ed Meyers (trombone), Wayne Preston (saxophonist), and Les Thaler (trumpet). In 1977, the group went to Los Angeles to record with producer Marvin Gaye. Due to illness, Gaye was unable to complete the project. Leader Bobby Harris requested and got Philip Bailey, the vocalist of Earth, Wind & Fire, to produce the group's first album Kinsman Dazz. They released their first single, "I Might as Well Forget About Loving You" in 1978. Philip Bailey made significant contributions to the group's vocal arrangements and overall sound. He went on to co-produce the second album, Dazz in 1979 when the band achieved their second charting hit "Catchin' Up On Love".
In 1980, The Kinsman Dazz changed its name to The Dazz Band after being signed to Motown Records which simultaneously included a re-organization of members. Wayne Preston and Les Thaler were no longer with the group, and Sennie "Skip" Martin, (trumpet, vocalist) Pierre DeMudd (trumpet, vocalist) and Kevin Kendricks (keyboards) were added. In 1981 guitarist Eric Fearman was also added.
The Dazz Band's first album for Motown was Invitation to Love(1980). The band's title track began a string of hits starting in March 1981. The group's next album, Let The Music Play (1981), featured the hit single "Knock! Knock!", reaching the Top 50. The Dazz Band's breakthrough came with the hit "Let It Whip" written and produced by Reggie Andrews off of the Keep It Live (1982) album ."Let It Whip" reached No. 1 on the R&B charts, and achieved a Grammy Award and continues in recurring radio and Sirius XM rotation. Members of the Grammy Award Winning Dazz Band included: Sennie "Skip" Martin, Pierre DeMudd, Bobby Harris, Eric Fearman, Kenny Pettus, Steve Cox, Keith Harrison, Michael Wiley & Isaac Wiley. Reggie Andrews' masterful knowledge of music and smooth temperament brought musical stability that would make an everlasting mark on The Dazz Band's history. On December 31, 1982, during The Dazz Band's New Year's Eve concert at the Front Row in Cleveland, Mayor George V. Voinovich presented Bobby Harris and The Dazz Band with the Key to the City of Cleveland with proclamations from the State of Ohio. The Dazz Band continued to score R&B hits with the songs such as "Party Right Here" (1983), "On the One For Fun" (1983) "Joystick" (1983), and "Let It All Blow" (also their biggest UK hit single, peaking at #12) (1984).
Reggie Andrews produced five Dazz Band albums including Let The Music Play (1981), Keep It Live (1982), On the One (1983), Joystick (1983), Jukebox (1984) under the Motown label. Bobby Harris was the Associate Producer on all five albums, and Producer of the album Hot Spot (1985) also on Motown. The Dazz Band is known for its high energy live performances, often proving more popular than the headlining act. After winning the Grammy in 1982, Keith Harrison (1983)(vocalist, keyboards) was added to the group. In 1985 both Eric Fearman and Sennie "Skip" Martin (trumpet, vocalist) left the group and were replaced by guitarist Marlon McClain; and the search began for additional vocalists that would match The Dazz Band sound. In 1986, The Dazz Band recorded Wild & Free (1986) which featured Jerry Bell as lead vocalist."Geffen Records. The Dazz Band signed with RCA records in 1988 and released the album Rock the Room which charted with the single Anticipation featuring vocals from Juan Lively (vocalist). From 1994-2001 Terry Stanton (vocalist) contributed on the following albums including Funkology (1994), and Under the Streetlights (1995) Lucky Records. After serving as lead vocalist with Kool & The Gang for many years, Sennie "Skip" Martin returned to performing and recording with The Dazz Band in 1997 and recorded on Double Exposure(1997) live in Seattle Washington, and shared lead vocals with Terry Stanton on Time Traveler (2001) on Major Hits Records. In 2015, Bobby Harris added vocalist Donny Sykes to The Dazz Band, as they prepare to release new music in 2017.