Early Elton
Jeff Kazee (piano and vocals)

A longtime member of the legendary Rock/R&B band Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, Jeff recently teamed with Southside Johnny Lyon to write and produce the Jukes' 2010 album "PIlls and Ammo". Another one of Kazee's musical relationships is as a keyboardist/vocalist with Jon Bon Jovi, performing Jon's solo shows and often sharing the stage with the group Bon Jovi—most notably, as a Touring Member on the band's "Have A Nice Day" World Tour.

An eclectic career has seen him perform with Folk/Pop singer-songwriter Dar Williams, guitarist/bandleader G.E. Smith, Soul Music legend Steve Cropper and in the Downtown milieu of Chocolate Genius…oh, and Snoop Dogg. Full bio on Jeff's Facebook and Myspace pages.

Recently recorded Crystal Bowersox's celebrated debut "Farmers Daughter" (Jive Records).

Kazee also leads kazeedigs, a band dedicated to performing music "currently on Heavy Rotation on Jeff's iPod." kazeedigs has presented shows such as "Greats Of The 88's", "Stax Rides The Subway: Soulsville, NYC" and most recently— "Exile On Ocean Ave." at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ—performing in full sequence, the Rolling Stones' landmark Rock double LP "Exile On Main St.".


Jeff on performing Elton's early music:

I've always heard a ton of Leon Russell in Elton's early playing and writing. Russell's influence—along with guys like Allen Touissaint, Ray Charles and The Band—seemed to clearly drive Elton's Americana-influenced "Tumbleweed Connection". To take the influences of such strong Artists and then forge a style of your own that appeals to musicians and non-musos alike, well-it's a rare occurence. Adding the dynamic performing style that Elton possessed? Lightning in a bottle.

"Tumbleweed Connection" has always been a favorite of mine—so soulful and earnest, still sounding fresh to me after all these years. It's as if Elton and Bernie Taupin were trying to write their version of Great American Novel in musical form, with Elton hanging his heroes' influences on his sleeves with that funky, churchy—almost guitaristic, at times—approach to the piano and letting his soulful tenor tell tales of the Old West and yearnings of loves lost.

Earnestness. A quality underated by college Jazz musicians and the Seen/Heard It All Cognoscenti alike—but thankfully, celebrated and valued by the Average Joe that just likes music that somehow touches. If you haven't guessed, I fall into the latter. Earnestness completely drives Elton's seminal Live record "11.17.70", dripping with ambition, hard-rocking declarations and a sense of—well, desperation. Screwing around with an impromptu "Take Me To The Pilot" at a soundcheck, I was pleased to find that my bandmates John Conte and Rich Pagano also shared my love for "11.17.70" and the effectiveness—sheer power!—of Elton, Nigel and Dee's interplay on (the already cool) Elton and Bernie Taupin's material. The original Piano Power Trio! Fast forward a year or two later and you find myself, John and Rich exploring and exchanging, through our own interplay, on the "early stuff" that we dig so much in our "Early Elton" shows. I only hope to rock as hard as the trio that inspired us did and that others will share our enthusiam for the music that continues to inspire and challenge the three of us.