Bio

The Band

Ten year veterans of the Chicago music scene, Kong Fuzi's sound is a blend of 60's and 70's funk, New Orleans horns, soul and R&B, which they weave into signature vocal and instrumental grooves.

Kong Fuzi has performed at numerous reputable venues in the Chicagoland area including Martyr's, The Boulevard Cafe, The Double Door, Gunther Murphy's, The Elbo Room, The Bottom Lounge, The Note, Wise Fools Pub, Hog Head McDunnas, The Wabash Tap, and Subterranean among others. The band has also shared stages with notable artists including The Benevento-Russo Duo, The Frank Catalano All-Star Band, Buddha's Belly, Ordinary K, Diplomats of Solid Sound, New Math, Fly Williams, The Jesters, Hounds Way, and The Greyhounds.

Personnel

Travis Mandrell : Keyboards/Vocals

Travis Mandrell

Keys & Vocals

Born in Southern Illinois, Travis grew up in the blistering heat of Phoenix, Arizona. He started playing the piano at an early age, only straying to the guitar briefly in his teens when he became interested in girls and rock bands like Nirvana (et al.). Travis started playing jazz in high school because he thought it was the only way to be a pianist and still be cool (though others may have disputed his coolness at the time).

Travis received his Bachelor's degree in piano from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. It was there that he met many of the musicians that he would perform and tour with for the next 10 years at venues both large (the occasional festival or arena show) and small (more frequently, that stank-ass biker joint where everyone wears the same jacket).

In 2005 Travis relocated to Chicago to study computer science at DePaul University, from which he received a Master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction - a move heralded as a "good call" by family and friends alike.

More information about Travis, his web design work, and his musical projects is available at www.travismandrell.com

Andy Peplinski : Bass

Andy Peplinski

Bass

AP started his musical career early, by crying every time his mother tried to sing him to sleep. From those early days of music criticism, he took up the piano (Suzuki) from age 5 until he got sick of Mozart piano pieces around the age of 12. He briefly tried viola, but fortunately gave it up [insert gratuitous viola joke here].

Trombone would prove to be his main instrument into college, but when he realized that there aren't many jobs for big band section trombonist, he moved on. During this time, at about age 16, he got involved in a SERIOUS music project: Field Of Evil (F.O.E.). When discussions began, there was already a keyboardist (Mike) a guitarist (Brian) a drummer (Joel/Dave) but no bassist, so he volunteered to play the bass, thinking "hey my hands are really big - maybe that will make me a good bass player!". Around this same time he became aware of Fishbone and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as the old soul/funk/R&B greats like Stevie, James, Marvin, and Curtis. The rest, as they say, is history.

With a BFA in acting and a minor in music, AP currently fixes computers for a living while dreaming of a full-time voice-over gig.

Todd Boyce : Alto Saxophone

Todd Boyce

Alto Saxophone

Todd graduated DePaul University with a Bachelor's in Music Business. He has opened for artists such as Poison (pre 'Rock of Love') and performed with the Rhythm Rockets, World Class Noise, Brother John, The Alan Gresik Swing Shift Orchestra, BMR4, The Rob Parton Jazz Tech Big Band, Bill O'Connell's Chicago Skyliners Big Band and others playing at the Green Mill, Buddy Guy's Legends, Joe's Bebop Café, Pops for Champagne, Andy's Jazz Club, Shaw's Crabhouse, Pete Miller's Steakhouse, Fitzgerald's, The Taste of Chicago and many other clubs and restaurants.

Todd currently lives in Chicago and performs with his own jazz duo and quartet in addition to playing regularly with Standing Room Only, KongFuzi and the M13 Big Band. He also maintains a teaching studio of just over forty private students between St. Giles Grade School in Oak Park, Downers Grove North and South High Schools and St. Francis High School in Wheaton.

Pete Marx : Drums

Pete Marx

Drums

Attorney Peter Marx is the corner stone of Kong Fuzi's groove-oriented sound. He started playing drums at age 8 as a result of a general distaste and lack of interest for the piano. Pete spent his childhood beating on pots and pans until he got his first kit at age 11. Since then Pete has had several years of training with various drum gurus.

Pete is a founding member of Kong Fuzi and also a former member of Chicago bands Mental Floss and Funkaducci. His favorite artists include Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin and Karl Denson (Tiny Universe and The Greyboy Allstars). Though he has a taste for rock guitar, Pete loves funk music - the dirtier, the better.

Josh Shapiro : Tenor Saxophone

Josh Shapiro

Tenor Saxophone

Josh Shapiro (Shap) began his musical journey at age 5 through Suzuki violin, and, at age 10, continued by picking up the saxophone in the school band. He began performing professionally while still in high school, subsequently spending time performing at sea and with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, interspersed with five years at the University of North Texas and DePaul University honing his improvisation and arranging skills. Shap currently freelances throughout the Chicagoland region, but can often be heard playing with Standing Room Only Orchestra or leading his own trio/quartet in addition to his KF duties.

Shap's favorite artists include Hank Mobley, Stan Getz, Clifford Brown, Frank Zappa, Dexter Gordon et al.

Shap reminds you: "All this music is available at the gift shop!".

Matt Pinizzotto : Guitar

Matt Pinizzotto

Guitar

Matt Pinizzotto began his music career as a high school student. His Interest in learning how to play rock guitar changed after hearing a recording of Charlie Parker lent to him by a local guitar instructor. Matt studied for two years at Roosevelt University and two years at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he received his Bachelors in Music.

Matt has studied with many different players such as Mick Goodrick, Bobby Broom,George Garzone and John Thomas. After Moving back to Chicago , Matt continued his education at DePaul University where he received a graduate degree in Jazz Composition. Matt has performed with many groups, including DePaul's Big Band at the Jazz Times Jazz Festival at Sea, aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, and The Jazz Showcase in addition to local Chicago clubs such as the Green Mill and Andy's. He has also shared the stage with distinguished musicians such as: James Moody, David 'Fathead' Newman, Louie Bellson and Steve Turre.

Check out Matt's other projects, including the Matt Pinizzotto Organ Trio, at his website: www.mattpinizzotto.com