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Ezra Charles and the Works

"Nobody's Better Than Ezra." DigitalCity.com

Since 1987 Ezra Charles and the Works had been subtly infusing the concept "Houston's Band" into the city's consciousness, without ever mentioning it by name. At the 2003 Thanksgiving Day Parade, the CBS affiliate television broadcast anchor Greg Hurst officially bestowed this title on them to about a million viewers. "Darn appropriate," proclaimed a fan the next day. With their own sound and repertoire (mostly from their six CD's), this band lays down a rockin' groove that defies simple descriptions, but is firmly rooted in every type of music that ever came out of this part of Texas: Boogie-Woogie, Swing, Rockabilly and Blues. Famous for having girls in the horn section and flashy piano antics, Ezra has never had his songs be the first thing the audience noticed, but ultimately they have got to be the reason for the band's remarkable staying power.

Ezra Charles is Houston's best-known keyboardist, winning the Houston Press Readers Poll Award in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2004 for Best Piano/Keyboards and similar polls in Public News, an alternative Houston paper, in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

Music played by the band consists primarily of Ezra Charles songs from their five albums, Design For Living (1989), Modern Years (1994), Drive Time (1996), Texas-Style (1998), and Beaumont Boy (2001), along with other original compositions and standards in their appealing horn-drenched rhythm & blues, boogie-woogie, Texas rock & roll sound.

The Houston Rockets chose Ezra Charles and the Works to be their official band for three NBA seasons, from 1993 to1996. They were a part of the home games in the Summit, playing throughout the games during pre-game, time-outs and half-time; as well as for pep rallies and victory celebrations after both of the NBA championship playoffs; for the 1994-95 season, they were regularly seen in an MTV-style commercial announcing the Rockets road games carried on UPN-20 KTXH.

Performing at clubs, concerts, media events, fund-raisers, and parties of every description, Ezra Charles and the Works have played private performances for The Rolling Stones, President George Bush and the 1990 Economic Summit, The NBA All-Star Party, Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the 1992 Republican National Convention.

Members of the band are:

 

 Ezra Charles - Piano, Vocals. Ezra grew up in Beaumont, Texas, and played in his first band at age 14 with Johnny and Edgar Winter. While at Rice University he invented a special microphone for pianos and achieved worldwide fame as a technical innovator. After meeting and learning from every great piano player from Professor Longhair to Leon Russell, he started his present band in 1983 as a rockabilly trio, adding a horn section in 1985. The band has no bass player because he prefers to play the bass lines himself through his own keyboard style and special equipment. Ezra is also the songwriter and arranger of the band's material.

 

 Nancy Dalbey - Trombone, Backing Vocals. Nancy joined the band in 1989, responding to a classified ad she saw while looking for work as a model or actress. She got her musical background playing trumpet in the Katy High School marching band and learned trombone after joining up with Ezra. She never missed a performance from the time she got in the band until her recent maternity leave, a span of over 13 years!

 

 Michael Seybold - Guitar. Mike joined the band in 1996, winning out over about 20 guitarists who auditioned for the position. Mike grew up in San Antonio, and was a student/protege of the late guitarist Tim Harris. Not only has he contributed his own tasty licks to the CD's recorded during his tenure, he faithfully and uncannily reproduces the parts laid down by his predecessors.

 

 Damon Sonnier - Saxophone, Backing Vocals. Damon started playing in the band in October, 1999. Damon has appeared with various Houston bands ( Miss Frances and the Rhythm Fish, and the Sonnier Brothers, among others), usually along with his twin brother Derek, a trumpet player.

 

 Derek Sonnier - Trumpet, backing Vocals. Derek has performed alongside his brother for years, and Damon's stint in this band starting October '99 was the exception. It was only natural when Ezra needed a new trumpet player five months later for him to turn to Derek. Re-uniting the twins has brought a new level of expertise to the horn section.

 

 Bret Nunez - Drums. The newest member of The Works is a native of Abbeville, Lousiana. He plyed his trade at an early age all over California before deciding to come here to Texas. He is a veteran of numerous Houston-area bands, having played with Kevin Black, Brian Black, Bill Hart and the Cardiac Cowboys and numerous others. His solid technical skills bring a new dimension of studio-quality drumming to the band's sound.

 

 
   
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