Rick Lazar (full name: Rick Shadrach Lazar) won Percussionist of the Year in the inaugural National Jazz Awards for 2002 and was voted Percussionist of the Year in 2000,1999,1997 and 1996 by Jazz Report magazine. He has released 3 CDs with his own group Montuno Police: "Bang" in 1990, Juno-nominee "Touch" in 1995 (Best Contemporary Jazz Album) and "The Call - Live" in 1999, which features special guest Randy Brecker on trumpet.
Rick is also the creator and artistic director of Samba Squad, a sizzling group of 40 percussionists, forging new traditions in Brazilian "batucada." Samba Squad's first self-titled CD, which Rick wrote, arranged and produced, won the UMAC (Urban Music Association of Canada) Award for Best World Music recording in 2001.
"Tear-Down-da-House Percussion Posse" Samba Squad is known for the energy and vitality of its live shows built on urban grooves from the Very Now.
Canadian born Lazar descends from the ancient Assyrian people & his Middle Eastern musical roots can be heard in his Afro-Latin-Brazilian-Arabic-New World Fusions. Rick received his first musical instruction in his hometown, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, from his father who gave him lessons on piano and woodwinds. In high school, Rick got seriously into drums and percussion and soon co-led the most popular band in town with his good friend Paul Shaffer of David Letterman fame.
After getting his B.A. (History major) from Lakehead University, Rick studied percussion at Indiana University's famed school of music and soon found himself in I.U.'s renowned University Jazz Band led by David Baker, which included Peter Erskine on drums. After university, Rick played with innovative funk and fusion groups in the mid-west, as well as touring the U.S. as percussionist with Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra.
Returning to Canada, Rick established himself in Toronto, performing with jazz fusion band, Manteca, and doing a variety of record dates, film sessions and jingles. In the early 80's, Rick formed Coconut Groove, a high-energy dance band featuring ground-breaking "World Beat & Jazz Rap" . This exciting group was a pivotal force on the Toronto music scene and its creative influences can still be heard today.
In 1987, Rick formed the Montuno Police, a six piece instrumental band which combines strong original compositions, wicked grooves, and creative interplay -Global Jazz from the Cutting Edge. MP has wowed audiences in appearances at the Du Maurier International Jazz Festivals -Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Montuno Police is currently recording their fourth CD which will be released in the fall of 2002.
In 1990, Lazar began his musical association with Loreena Mckennitt. Since then he has become a regular collaborator, adding his musical talents to five of her C.D.'s [including Juno award winner "The Visit"], and "Book of Secrets," which was No.#1 on Billboard's World Music Charts. He has been an integral part of the musical group that accompanies her on her world tours.
Rick has worked/recorded with such artists as Bruce Cockburn, Barry White, Paul Shaffer, Brian Hughes, Andy Milne, Blues Brothers, Vuja De, Moe Koffman, Lee Puyming, George Gao (China Tour, Spring 2002), Jesse Cook, Jane, Levon Ichkhanian and Hossam Ramzy, creator of Egyptian Dance Music.
Having established a reputation as a clinician by giving informative and exciting workshops in world music drumming styles (Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and Arabic), Lazar became a music educator in 1996 when he joined the percussion faculty at the Humber College of Music in Toronto as an instructor, leading Latin Music Ensemblesand giving private lessons.
In 2002 Lazar began teaching at York University. He gives private lessons in Global Rythms as applied to hand -drums and Drum Set and also leads the York University Escola De Samba.
One of his strengths is his versatility and in Toronto, Rick is kept busy with his involvement in a variety of innovative projects: Global jazz with his own Montuno Police . Brazilian batucada with his own Samba Squad, alternative Arabic music with Mernie Orchestra (Miriam Hassan and Ernie Tollar), Medina and Levon Ichkhanian, and Afro-Cuban Bata and
Rumba with Ire Omo and Sarita Leyva.
Rick's knowledge of world drums and music combines with his passionate energy to create a unique percussionist who is first call for a diverse array of artists.