FuzZz is a funk and soul-jazz band from Chicago.

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.

Emma Dayhuff, acoustic and electric bassist, is a recent graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied privately with Peter Dominguez and Eddie Gomez. She has also enjoyed close instruction from such jazz luminaries as Billy Hart, Robin Eubanks, Larry Gray, and Wendell Logan. Emma has shared the stage with Craig Hall, Claire Daly, Roseanna Vitro, VertiKal’s Justin Boyd and Stacy René, Groundspeed, and Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra. In addition to maintaining a performance schedule, Emma is currently the assistant recording engineer for Chicago’s Symphony Center, Lyric Opera, and the upcoming Grant Park Music Festival.

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 musicals and big bands.

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.

Fuzzz. The name says it all… Oh wait… No it doesn’t. Fuzzz weaves improvisations based on funk, jazz and blues rhythms and progressions. Bridging disparate traditions ranging from the king of soul to the greyboy allstars to the chemical brothers, this merry band of maverick renegades reinterprets old standards and introduces new groovalicous jams. Featuring mad scientists by day, jampires by night David Freedman (guitar) and Sliman Bensmaia (keys), the illegitimate daughter of Jaco Pastorius (not really), Emma Dayhuff (bass), mellifluous pixie Ashley Hamer (sax), and the human beat box Peter Mack (drums), Fuzzz is not to be trifled with. If you don’t like tasty jams, stay away!

Photos by: Jamie Bernstein

Genre: Funk/Jazz/Blues

Sliman Bensmaia – keys
Emma Dayhuff – bass
David Freedman – guitar
Ashley Hamer – sax
Peter Mack – drums



About Jamie Bernstein:
Jamie Bernstein is a Chicago-based photographer specializing in concert photography.

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All photos © 2013 by Jamie Bernstein and published here with kind permission.

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