March 26, 2008


Aziza grew up in the 1960's. Born in Harlem where we lived for a while, then The Bronx then queens. Family consisted of 4 members, mom, dad, me and my brother. It was a good environment Dad played some piano and mom loved the arts. We attended church and always ate Sunday breakfast and dinners together and week nights also. Mom raised my brother and me and dad worked. We were a close family. Mom was a great cook and raised us well and Dad was an easy going loving father.

Growing up as Linda( not Aziza) there were many many musical styles influencing in my life. Such as; Jazz, soul, blues, r&b, calypso, salsa, afro-cuban, classical, negro spirituals( Tuskegee Institute Choir, Mahalia Jackson), anthems, gospel, rap, hip hop. While attending The High School Of Music and Art, those of us who loved jazz would meet in the practice rooms after school and jam, playing songs by Herbie Hancock, MongoSantamaria, Horace Silver, Oliver Nelson, John Coltrane, to name a few.

Legendary pianist Kenny Barron was my mentor and teacher at The Jazzmobile Workshop in Harlem in the early 1970's. He would recommend me for gigs and that is how I became Cecil Payne's pianist before I was hired by Natalie Cole. Bassist Paul West was the Director of Jazzmobile at the time and some of the other teachers back then were Jimmy Heath, Curtis Fuller and Lee Morgan. When Mr. Morgan died we all attended the funeral services, if memory serves me correctly, I think it was in Philadelphia.
In the 1960's & 70's we were able to call in to a radio station and actually speak to the artist being interviewed 'live' on the air. This is how Horace Silver and I became good friends. He was a guest on WLIB, I phoned in because he was and still is one of my fav. composers.

We met, talked about music and maintained a friendship to this day! I can remember always wanting to know who the composer was as much as knowing the song itself!
Coming from the projects, I was surrounded by a lot of black music and latin music too.

When I attended Music & Art H.S. and The Manhattan School Of Music, I was immersed into the European Classical music. I really liked the impressionistic period the best. In College is where I met Yusef Lateef. He and I were in the same ear-training and sight singing class. I started studying Alto Sax and blues with this master musician for almost 2 years....The piano won out, but the influences of the horn is still in my head, in my heart and in my arrangements. My particular vocal instrument to me is definitely a saxophone.

I am a single mom. I raised my son, Brandon in Brooklyn. He is a Naval Pilot, musician and composer and the joy of my life!! He is starting to write some beautiful music. He is a real Jazz head and a great human being. He and his lovely wife are very happy.

In terms of obstacles, when I really really think about it, the biggest obstacle in my life was me. There was a time when I compared myself with others because I allowed myself to be persuaded by an industry that does just that. They want you to sound like what is 'hot ' at the moment or the particular 'flava' of the month, year, week , day or minute... ya feel me? So when I was invited to perform at The Jazz Cafe in London in 2006 and these people were groovin to my music, my style, my voice, my essence, that is when I knew that if they could dig me and songs that I had written almost 30 years ago, then it was time for me to wake up and embrace and accept the gifts that The Creator had blessed me with. So I freed myself and got out of my way and I LOVE what I do now and my message is not going to be for everyone, but it is going to be for the ones that it's supposed to be for and for that I say thank you God!

And I continue to give God the praise every single time He gives me a song or a word or a message or a lyric I look up and say THANK YOU!! And to my parents who are both gone from this earthly plane now, I say I will continue to represent and make you proud so you will know that all your faith, effort and sacrifices were well worh it!!!

Musical influences

Horace Silver, Earth Wind & Fire, Jazz Messengers, Stevie Wonder, Isley Brothers, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Tania Maria, Nikki Giovanni, Herbie Hancock, Maya Angelou, Joe Cuba, MongoSantamaria, Kenny Barron, Yusef Lateef, John Coltrane, Eddie Palmieri, Cal tjader, McCoy Tyner, Ray Charles, James Brown, Sly Stone, Graham Central Station, Johnny Mathis, Nat king Cole, Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey...and on and on........

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