||M.R.L.S is a quartet of fine musicians who play a tasty combination of instrumental soul and jazz. They are four longtime friends who have backed countless major artists in a wide variety of styles and settings.
The brainchild of Tony Saunders, the group got together for the sole purpose of playing for fun! This feeling is truly contagious as audiences from all musical backgrounds have consistently been knocked out by the infectious grooves of MRLS.
Tony, who has led many bands and has been a sideman for many great artists, wanted everyone in the band to have equal billing-hence the initials MRLS. The band also thought it serendipitous (that means a freakin’ cosmic coincidence) that when the initials were arranged in this manner it could be seen as a loving tribute to Tony’s father, legendary San Francisco keyboardist and international jam master Merl Saunders. It all just felt right.
The individual ingredients that make up the soulful stew that is MRLS are as follows:
M – Alex Murzyn
A burning sax player, and a major solo artist in his own right, with 3 record releases to his name has graced the bands of Stanley Clarke, Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, Huey Lewis, and many more. His virtuosity and fire make him a perfect fit for the front line of this ensemble. Alex can kick a band into overdrive at the drop of a hat.
R- David Rokeach
The band’s versatile drummer has laid down the groove for Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Joe Henderson, Patti LaBelle, Ernestine Anderson, Aaron Neville, Mark Murphy, Joyce Cooling and countless others. David provides a solid foundation whether its some slamming funk swinging straight ahead or a simmering Latin groove.
L – Carl Lockett
One of the greatest guitarists in the world. Carl has been employed by all of the great Hammond B3 organ masters of our time, including Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and the great Joey DeFrancesco. He has also toured extensively with Chuck Mangione, Esther Philips, David Crosby, and the Hawkins Family. Anyone who has heard Carl will tell you that he’s a smokin’ soloist who can lay down some serious funky rhythm, but is also very much at home with a bossa nova or a sensitive ballad. When it comes to guitar, Carl is the man!
S – Tony Saunders
The driving force behind the band. Tony is the man that holds down the bottom with some in your face bass. This man is definitely FUNKY, and can work a crowd into a frenzy with his bass solos. He has worked with scores of major artists, including Stevie Wonder, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Les McCann, Jerry Garcia, Chaka Khan, Sly Stone, Ringo Starr, Dave Leibman, Dexter Gordon, and the list goes on. Tony grew up playing music with his father Merl, and was introduced to both a wide variety of music, and a young guitar player by the name of Carl Lockett. Carl and Tony became instant friends and went on to play in many bands together, including Esther Phillips, the Hawkins Family, and David Crosby. Tony and Carl have a seemingly unlimited repertoire of tunes together. This musical and personal connection helps form the core of MRLS.
So, I invite you to check out MRLS for yourself. Come listen to the band’s unique blend of jazzy funk and funky jazz, which they like to call Jazz ala Soul. You’ll be glad you did.