Audley “Chizzy” Chisholm
On Tour with Maxi Priest
By Greg Rule
He’s been called an ambassador of music … a guitarist who spreads a positive message through his music. Indeed, Audley “Chizzy” Chisholm exudes a warm, affirmative vibe, both musically and otherwise. He’s also a rock-solid, tasteful musician who knows when to lay back and when to stretch.
A native from Montego Bay, Jamaica, Chizzy received formal training at Samuels Music School, all the while strengthening his soul and musical passion at his local gospel church. In 1995, Chizzy entered the big leagues with Maxi Priest, and went on to spend the following decade circling the globe with the reggae superstar. In between tours, Chizzy collaborated with Isaac Hayes, Shaggy, Howard Hewitt, and Alye Woodson of the Temptations to name a few.
Today, Chizzy continues to tour with Maxi Priest. On a recent stopover at the Hollywood Bowl, he met up with Roland and BOSS.
• • • • •
How did you make the transition from being a young guitarist in Jamaica to touring the world with Maxi Priest?
My big break came in ’95. That’s when I first met Maxi. I was working in a band with two of Maxi’s cousins who told him about me, and that’s how it all started.
You’ve done a lot of recording and touring work since then. Do you approach your gear differently for studio and stage gigs?
I pretty much use the same gear for both, because I know where all the sounds are and how to get them quickly, so I usually take my live rig into the studio.
What are the most essential components of your rig?
For me, I always require two Roland JC-120 amps for that huge stereo sound. For my pedalboard, right now I’m using the BOSS ME-50, but I also used the single pedals for many years, such as the BOSS Super Chorus [CH-1], Metal Zone [MT-2], Noise Suppressor [NS-2], and Flanger [BF-3]. I always read magazines like Guitar Player, which is how I learned about processors like the GP-16, GP-100, and ME-50.
For your concert at the Hollywood Bowl, you used a pair of JC-120s and an ME-50. Describe how you used that rig throughout the set.
I use quite a few different sounds throughout the show. I use a lot of delays, choruses, and distortion effects … it all depends on the song. Playing at the Hollywood Bowl was nice: a good venue, good weather, and a good crowd.
Has your Roland and BOSS gear held up well after so many years of road use?
Oh yeah. Always. I’ve tried different effects and amps, but Roland and BOSS … that’s my sound.
What advice would you give to guitarists interested in improving their reggae chops?
Reggae has many styles, as you know, but basically reggae is not so much about being technical as it is about feel. It’s from the heart. Playing reggae for me is fun because it makes people happy, and that makes me happy in return.
Traditional reggae requires guitarists to play steady, solid patterns for extended periods. How did you develop such strong, consistent timekeeping skills?
I grew up in reggae, and it became a part of me. I’m accustomed to the traditional structures, but sometimes I take it outside, then I’ll bring it back inside again. But for me, since I was born into reggae, it’s easy to just keep that pattern going. I never get tired of doing that.
It’s like breathing.
There ya go. That’s it.
For musicians who are new to reggae, what musicians and/or records do you recommend they listen to?
It all starts with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals. It starts there. They’re the foundation. Once you have that covered, you have a good idea of what’s going on today, because what’s happening today in reggae is maybe a step or two up; over the years the tempo has changed a little. But once you have the foundation covered, you’re pretty much in the reggae vibe, ya know.
When you’re not playing reggae, what styles of music do you enjoy playing the most?
I like jazz. I’ve liked it from day one, ’cause it gives me a chance to explore more as a guitarist, to really go outside and get more technical. Paul Jackson, Jr. has been a big influence for me. I like rock also. Joe Satriani was very influential. So I incorporate a little bit of jazz and rock into my reggae whenever I can. It keeps things interesting.
• • • • •
To catch Chizzy in concert, visit www.maxipriest.com for the latest tour news.