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The Dazz Band

Bobby Harris masterminded the formation of the Dazz Band in the late 70s when he combined two Cleveland funk outfits, Bell Telefunk and the Kinsman Grill house band. The result was an eight-piece line-up, with Harris, Pierre DeMudd and Skip Martin III handling horns and vocals, and Eric Fearman (guitar), Kevin Frederick (keyboards), Kenny Pettus (percussion), Michael Wiley (bass) and Isaac Wiley (drums) providing the instrumental support. Coining the word ‘Dazz’ as a contraction of ‘danceable jazz’, Harris initially named the band Kinsman Dazz, under which moniker they registered two minor US hits in 1978 and 1979. The following year, they signed to Motown Records, where their irresistible blend of dance rhythms and commercial melodies established them as one of the label’s hottest acts of the 80s. Their early albums were firmly in the jazz-funk style pioneered by Earth, Wind And Fire and George Benson. They graduated towards a harder, less melodic funk sound, enjoying a US Top 10 hit with ‘Let It Whip’ in 1982, which won them a Grammy award for the best performance by an R&B Vocal Duo or Group. Notable British success followed with the tougher, sparse rhythm of ‘Let It All Blow’. Jukebox marked a transition towards a more rock-orientated sound, which brought them continued success in the specialist black music charts, though crossover recognition among pop fans proved more elusive. The band suffered two personnel changes in 1985, when Marlon McClain and Keith Harrison replaced Eric Fearman and Kevin Frederick. A switch to Geffen Records in 1986 proved unfulfilling, and the group quickly moved on to RCA Records, but failed to re-establish their hit-making form.

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