Label: Collectables - COL-CD-6302 • Format: CD Album, Reissue, Stereo • Country: US • Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul • Style: Disco
Michael Zager is the New Jersey boy who grew up to become one of the most influential guys of the Disco era. Everyone has heard his "Let's All Chant"but what most people don't know is that he's also responsible for over commercials. Read ahead for the complete career of this Professor of Music. Besides his parents he also has 2 sisters, but none of them was as musical as Michael grew up to be.
Probably he inherited his musical talents from his aunt who wrote some hits like "Just Between You and Me" for the Chordettes in the s. The young Michael started playing the violin in the third grade and during his school years he learned to play the clarinet, saxophone and a little bass. Later on he started playing keyboards and fast found that it was the thing for him and during his teens he played at weddings, bar mitzvahs and similar.
Michael was also always a member of the school bands from junior high throughout college, but he had no plans of working with music back then. He actually wanted to be a television director, but that's something Michael's son seems to have inherited as he's a TV producer at Paramount pictures for The Entertainer - Taxi Gang* Featuring Sly & Robbie - Sting like 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'the Insider'.
Michael Zager has got a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Miami. He studied conducting at the Julliard School of Music and he also studied orchestration, arranging and composition at the Manhattan School of Music.
Michael never really started working with My Boy Willie - The Regimental Band Of The Coldstream Guards* - Regimental Marches Of The British Ar before he was in the Army, at that time he started composing his own songs.
Through a friend they found the lead vocalist Genya Ravan. Even though other members where brought in to the piece band, many came and went, but the original trio remained. Ten Wheel Drive's big brake came in when playing the Atlanta Pop Festivala gig where all the big names at the time were performing. After this successful gig their managers, Sid Bernstein and Billy Fieldsmanaged to get Jerry Schoenbaum of Polydor Records to visit one of the band's rehearsals and he signed the band on the spot.
Ten Wheel Drives' first album - Construction 1 was released the same year. I, Discoguyasked Michael; Can you tell me a little more about the group and your role in the group? I was co-leader with Aram Schefrin.
I was the melody writer and the arranger. Aram wrote the lyrics and co-arranged, Genya sang and co-wrote several songs. We made 3 albums for Polydor Records and 1 album for Capitol Records. Genya left the band after their third Polydor Head On A Stick - Various - Endless Grindstone: The Compilation. In an interview with AMG she told her view of Michael and Aram and explained why she decided to leave; "One of the last gigs we did was a show at Carnegie Hall with a symphony.
Mike and Aram were geniuses. But after 5 years with the band Aram left to practice law and the band was disbanded. Despite Ravan leaving the band inMichael and Aram worked with her again as co-producers in her debut solo album. After the time with the band, what did Michael Zager do then? He tells me: "Following Ten Wheel Drive, I began composing music for television and radio commercials in addition to composing scores for television programs and some film work.
So, Which of your music jobs, writer - producer - arranger - singer, do you prefer? My main instrument is keyboards. The mid 70's came and as the pioneer he is, Michael was among the first to discover this new rapidly growing dance music genre called - DISCO.
The track peaked at 3 in the Billboard Disco singles charts and at 15 in the Club Play charts. For Peabo it was one of these once in a lifetime shots, as he was just hanging around in the studio and ended up singing the lead for this track. A track which was also re-released in to hit a second time around. The title track peaked at 13 in the Billboard Disco Charts. The band also released "Spanish Harlem" with "Oye Como Va" on the flip on a 12" single, but it didn't reach the success of "SpanDisco".
For the band's third album they dropped parts of the name and simply became Afro-Cuban Band. Once again it was the title track - "Rhythm Of Life" - that became the biggest hit and was released on 12" single. It was followed by two more 12" single releases; "Baila" and "Black Widow Woman"but none of them scoring the charts. The single was planned to be followed by an album, but for some reason Arista didn't want to promote the group and Zager decided to disband the group.
But Michael's all-time smash came in when the true Disco Classic "Let's all chant" was released on the small Private Stock label. In January 14, the song reached the top of the Billboard Disco charts and it soon became a 1 hit in the UK and the rest of the world. All over people Ask Me - Love Childs Afro Cuban Blues Band - Out Among Em singing along with the now legendary "Oh-Oh Let's all chant". I asked Michael about that; How did you come up with the "Oh-Oh Let's all chant"?
Was that in the original text or was it ad lib Ask Me - Love Childs Afro Cuban Blues Band - Out Among Em the studio? We sold around 5 million copies of the song. Who were the members of the Michael Zager Band and did you sing lead yourself?
My co-writer, Alvin Fields was one of the singers. I did not sing. But 'Let's all chant' really put me on the 'map' as a composer, producer and arranger. Other than the title track you should listen out for tracks like "Music fever" and Love Expresswhich is Disco at its best. The later was actually the B-side track of the "Let's all chant" 12" single, while "Music fever" was released as a second single off the album and with "Freak" on the flip.
The whole album actually reached the top of the Billboard Club Play chart. Whitney sang on "You don't know a good thing"; this must have been one of her first recorded tracks I found her when she was Most notable is the track "Time heals every wound" with lead vocals by Deniece Williamsbut also Luther Vandross added his vocals to a couple of tracks on the LP.
The single "Don't sneak on me" was also released off the album. After that there have only been a Ask Me - Love Childs Afro Cuban Blues Band - Out Among Em 12" singles released like "Dr. Back to some of the people you have been working with How were they to work with and have you got any comments on them and the work you did together?
We recorded 3 albums with The Spinners, with great success. They were great fun and very professional to work with. It's really cool and I just had to ask Michael about that I thought it would be fun. Do you know how many songs have you been involved in? What have you been up to?
I've heard you've been working with soundtracks, writing music for commercials and compilations and so on. Is all of that correct? I have produced, arranged and composed music for over 40 albums. I have been working on the smooth jazz record since that time.
I listen to a lot of Classical music, Smooth Jazz, Pop and Dance music that have got songs, not just tracks. I like good vocals! Besides his own music work, Michael Zager also holds the positions of the Dorothy F. Do you still write music Ask Me - Love Childs Afro Cuban Blues Band - Out Among Em though you teach others music at FAU?
What about Disco music, did you like Disco music during that era, or was it more like a job? With the great Disco music you wrote and produced, I guess you liked it We worked with the best musicians and singers.
The songs were better than most of the current dance songs, in my opinion. Work for many players before synths took over. Writing for orchestras was great fun. We need more live playing today. Regarding today's dance music I have not had a chance to stay current on that as I have been working on my new smooth Jazz album for the past several years. Now that the album has been released, I will get back into it. Of all the people you have worked with, have you got any favorite people you like or prefer working with?
I have worked many times with Jocelyn, she worked for me as a background singer on many of my productions. I cannot remember the names of the songs but it was on the Zager band Albums. He was one of the I Love You (Radio Edit) - Various - Fantastic 1 real club music producer's.
We also did Cissy Houstons music as well! Such a pleasant time for me. Thanks you for this great recalling. What do you think of sampling?
Do you approve when people want to sample your tracks? You have also been covered several times Jellybean did for example a cover of your Cissy Houston track "Think it over" I gave Jellybean the record to distribute and he had some remixes done as well.
But so many classics are covered today, what do you think about covers in general?
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