About the Band
Based in Chicago, IL, FuzZz has been making crowds groove since mid-2011. The five-piece funk band merges heavy influences from the Meters, James Brown, and the Greyboy Allstars with strains of Jaco Pastorius and Stevie Wonder to create sounds infused with driving vamps, energetic blues progressions, and fiery solos. The group has made appearances all over their fair city and have traveled as far as New Orleans to play their blend of distinctive originals and reinvented covers, which can be heard on their self-titled album.
Sliman Bensmaia started out studying classical piano at the age of six in Paris, France. When puberty kicked in and he moved to the United States, he took a detour and started playing the rock bass. As a college student in Charlottesville, VA, he played in a variety of improvisation-based bands, playing the local venues and touring the neighboring states. He continued his stint as a rock bassist in Charleston, SC, for a year, before going to graduate school in Chapel Hill, NC. There, he turned back to piano, where he taught himself to play jazz under the tutelage of Scott Warner. Shortly thereafter, he led a variety of jazz trios, quartets and quintets in Chapel Hill then in Baltimore, MD.
Dave Freedman’s musical interests span a wide range, from funk and jazz, to indie and psychedelic rock, to electronica. He started playing music at the early age of six when he began to play the electric keyboard and piano. Dave picked up the electric guitar at age 13 and has barely put it down since. At 15, he joined Atomic Cocktail, a jazz/rock influenced fusion group which played around town in New Haven, CT. During his college years in Rochester, NY, he played extensively with a classic rock/funk/jam band Off The Wagon, with whom he released an album and gigged widely throughout upstate New York. After college, Dave moved to Boston and played with Funk and Indie Rock groups at many of the premiere Boston area clubs. In 2008, Dave moved to Chicago and rediscovered the bass guitar and his rock and roll roots with indie rockers Fly Over State, making the rounds in the Chicago clubs and playing on their forthcoming debut album.
Ashley Hamer began playing music as a youngster amongst the redwoods of Northern California. Originally trained in classical clarinet, she soon picked up the saxophone and a love of jazz, which eventually brought her down south to the University of North Texas. Along with an extensive jazz education under the tutelage of Jim Riggs and Brad Leali, she played with a range of groups that ran the gamut of rock, pop, classical, dixieland and funk. After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees in jazz performance, Ashley packed her belongings into a tiny trailer and moved up to Chicago, a city with which she immediately fell in love. Since arriving, she has taught private clarinet, saxophone and flute lessons and played various woodwinds in a number of settings, including musicals at the Drury Lane Theater and Big Noise Theater and with such jazz orchestras as Big Band Boom and The Great Postmodern Nightmare.
Danny Lopatka is a bassist from Downers Grove, IL who began playing classical upright at the age of 7. He then switched to electric bass at 12 and moved back to the double bass in time to earn his bachelor's and master's degrees in jazz performance. His musical influences range vastly from modern bluegrass, to funk/fusion, to 70s punk rock. He has performed with many notable musicians including four-time Grammy nominee Stefon Harris, Emmy Award-winning composer Orbert Davis, and Motown legend Martha Reeves. When not teaching or playing around town, you can see him rocking out with many of today's top hip hop and R&B stars on Fox's hit show, Empire.
Peter Mack began playing drums at the age of 10 and started taking it seriously while still in high school. After briefly attending Berklee College of music, he bounced around various colleges, playing in small combos, and finally settling down at North Central College, where he studies with some of Chicago's great jazz musicians. When he’s not at school, Peter plays around town with various jazz combos, and can occasionally be seen playing piano. He also teaches privately in the Chicago burbs. Peter prides himself on his versatility as a drummer, playing styles ranging from jazz to ska to soul and, of course, funk.