September 20th, 2003
Edition #300 Previously
Special Presentation - The Very Best of Café Jazz !
It was in the fall of 1997 that Café Jazz first crackled onto the airwaves. Now, six years, several hundred shows, and thousands of selections later, we’re set to celebrate our 300th edition. I love putting together this show and quite honestly I could probably choose enough music for ten or more such programs. Nevertheless, the tunes we have for you are integral to the style and mood of our show and for that reason alone we are calling this program, The Very Best of Café Jazz. Among others we’ll be hearing from Steve Laury, Marcos Valle, and Oleta Adams. You deserve the best, so we’ll be playing tracks from Dave McMurray, Roberto Perera and Nicholas Bearde, among others. There’s also fantastic music from Greg Adams and his solo debut. We have something from that and as well from Doc Powell and Eddie Bullen. Club 1600 is on the show, as is Tom Grant and we’ll also hear from a couple of more Café Jazz favourites namely Fattburger and Allon Sams. And as if that wasn’t enough Peter White, Bona Fide, The Rippingtons and DTTB are on as well. So sit back, relax and get set to enjoy some of the smoothest and freshest music around as we present "The Very Best of Café Jazz"!
|Highlights Hour One
Metropolis - Boney James :
He was actually born James Allen Oppenheim but today is known to millions by his distinctive nickname. As a struggling young artist Oppenheim was having trouble making ends meet, so much so that rather than spending his per diem on meals he would save it in order to pay the rent. With the rigors of touring, it wasn't too long before James was noticeably thin. In fact, a fellow musician remarked that if he ate any less he would have to be called "Boney James". Times have definitely changed as Boney is now one of the most popular artists in the SJ genre but the nickname has stuck. From his solo debut, 1992’s Trust we have Metropolis, one of his best.
the Rain - Kat Hendrix :
Beginning in the late 70s and continuing through until the early 90s, Hendrix provided the drum work for Skywalk, one the finest and most progressive groups to ever come out of Vancouver. Since then, he has continued to perform as one of the leading musicians on Canada’s West Coast. In 1993, however, Kat released a solo venture that found him artfully exploring aspects of contemporary jazz with the able accompaniment of Vince Mai on flugelhorn, saxman Tom Colclough and fellow Skywalk member, Miles Black on synthesiser. From Before the Rain we have the title track.
CD: Before the Rain
Label: Lion's Gate
Kiss - the V.I.P. Club :
To cap off hour one we'll be hearing from an ensemble led by Wolfgang Haffner called the VIP Club. Haffner was for more than a dozen years, the drummer with Klaus Doldinger in various configurations of the celebrated group Passport. As well during that time, he developed a reputation not only as a top-notch session player but also as an excellent composer and arranger. A couple of years back Haffner decided to put all these talents to use as leader of his own project. The result was Coconut Kiss, the very impressive debut release under the VIP Club banner. From that effort we have the title track.
CD: Coconut Kiss
|Highlights Hour Two|
It - Allon Sams :
Sams is a brilliant musician and producer based in his hometown of Tampa Florida. Although he started on trumpet & French horn, Allon fell in love with the versatility of the keyboards and chose that as the vehicle for his musical expression. For a time, Sams relocated to Los Angeles after being offered an internship with Josef Zawinul, the famed leader of Weather Report. This association gave Allon invaluable experience in the studio and led to further production work. In the course of events, Allon met up with Paul Brown, one of the top producers in SJ. Not too long afterwards, Paul contacted Allon, and Sams was soon collaborating with artists such as Peter White, Boney James, David Sanborn, & John Klemmer among others. Although he spent seven years in all in the glitter capitol of the world nurturing his career in music, Allon still wanted to record his own music.
| That and a desire to start a family and to be near his
own parents made him decide in the mid 90s to return to Tampa. He released
A Place in Time, his sophomore project, locally in Tampa in the summer
of 2001. In spite of the fact that he sold the album only at live gigs
and thru his website, the cd attracted a fair amount of international
attention including of course air play on our own Café Jazz here in Canada,
as it made our best of list for the year and as well was an instant add
to our "Indispensable SJ Listening List ".
The record’s a fitting showcase not only for Sams’ fantastic playing but also for his exceptional composition and production talents. A few years back while he was in LA, Allon appeared on Peter White’s Caravan of Dreams cd. (Allon and Peter co-wrote the tune Together Again.) On A Place in Time, White returns the favour by contributing some of his always fine and tasty guitar work to a couple of the tracks including the one that we're hearing.
*I had the great fortune of meeting Allon this past summer ... please see The Connection.*
CD: A Place in Time
Label: Blue Water Records
Site : Allon Sams
It - Fridrik Karlsson :
Karlsson is an amazingly talented and versatile guitarist who's been involved in many diverse projects from productions of Jesus Christ Superstar to TV and film work. He’s performed professionally since the age of 16 and was the first ever graduate from the Reykjavik School of Music. Fridrik’s first taste of international success was as a member of the fusion unit Mezzoforte, one of the hottest bands to come out of Iceland, and one for whom he continued to play for many years. In 1996, he moved to the UK and shortly thereafter began an association with the group Shakatak. Shakatak were on the look out for a guitarist when their long time member, Keith Winter, was forced to leave the group due to a prolonged illness. He’s appeared on several of their cds and as well a few years ago teamed up with keyboardist Bill Sharpe also from Shakatak to record as the duo Espirito. In spite of this busy schedule, Fridrik found time to record A New Day. Released in 2000, the project is an exceptional album featuring a thoroughly enjoyable collection of original tracks.
CD: A New Day
Touch - Gregg Karukas :
Since around the time that he first heard and saw the Beatles on TV, Karukas had dreamed of playing his own music and somehow creating the same type of magic that he felt back then. Lucky enough to be born with a bit of natural talent, Gregg found his way into the jazz clubs and studios of Washington, DC and Baltimore where he was considered one of the top fusion and studio players in town. In 1983, Karukas moved to Los Angeles. He soon became a major part of the pop jazz scene and appeared as an original member of the Rippingtons in 1986. He earned a reputation not only a highly skilled player but also became well known for his tasteful arrangements. Including his first solo work, which has been re-issued and actually predates his stint with the Ripps, Karukas has recorded a total of 9 cds. We'll be revisiting Blue Touch, Gregg’s impressive offering from 1998 for the musical magic of the title track.
CD: Blue Touch
|The Clearwater/Tampa Connection - Allon Sams !|
|I first heard Allon Sams while
listening to WSJT in the Tampa Bay area of Florida back in the mid 90s.
If I remember correctly, it was Dusk to Dawn from his solo debut that
was getting quite a bit of airplay at the time. I fell in love with Allon's
style and sound and since then have followed developments in his career
with a great deal of excitement. This was particularly true with the release
of A Place in Time, his sophomore cd in 2001 and one which made its way
onto "The Café Jazz Best of .." list for that year and our "Indispensable"
list as well. Naturally when I visited the Tampa Bay area this past summer,
I had to look him up.
Initially I met with Allon on a Saturday evening in July just before his first set at the Elite Jazz Bar in Clearwater Florida. Sams and various configurations of his band are regular performers at the club, one of the hottest venues for Smooth Jazz in the Bay area. We had an understandably brief but very friendly conversation and I was introduced to a couple of the band members, John Mayeux on guitar and Gig Brown on drums. Rounding out the combo on this occasion was guest and saxman Mike Scaglione from Miami Sound Machine.
What a treat! Sams live was charged with all the dynamics and subtleties of his studio work while Scaglione was in a word incredible. Evidence of the passion and power that he put into each and every note was etched on his features and that energy was transmitted to the audience who lapped it up.
In addition to Allon's own originals, Sams covered several tunes by Brian Culbertson, Jeff Lorber and several other top contemporary players. Great covers too as the band easily beguiled me into believing that the selections were being played by the artists themselves. Speaking of originals though, Allon played the very tune that we’ll be hearing on "The Very Best of...". Done live Feelin' It was fantastic and in fact experiencing Allon playing that track triggered its inclusion on the show!
The second time that I caught up with Sams was the following Monday around 10 PM when I visited Studio A, his production facility in Tampa. Allon was recording the guitar track as performed by John Mayeux for a tune called St. Augustine. That selection is due for release on the debut cd from Gene Cannon, a fine sax player who is also based in the Tampa Bay Area and one who has appeared on both of Allon's cds. Gene and his wife were at the time expecting their first baby so he was doubly pumped, in fact the tune had been written to celebrate the time that they had spent in that romantic setting.(By the way, congratulations go out to the Cannons on the birth of their baby boy.)
I watched (and listened) as Sams finely tuned ears and production skills went to work, sifting through various takes to pick out and piece together the absolute best results. Based on what I heard, St. Augustine will most certainly be a fantastic track, great tone and texture by Gene on sax with just the right amount of finesse. Safe to say I'm looking forward to playing that one on our show as soon as it is available.
But back to Allon and his studio. Sams gave me a quick tour of his digs between takes. Allon seems to be the "go to guy" in the Bay area as he's not only worked with artists such as Peter White and Boney James but has also been involved in production work with most of the local talent. (Particularly noteworthy was Sams' participation on Les Sabler's Bridge the Gap. Sams played and produced the cd which debuted in Canada on our very own Café Jazz back in February of this year and one which is undoubtedly destined to make our "Best of 2003" list.)
In addition to his various production projects, Allon has also begun work on what will be his third solo release. According to AS this venture, slated for release some time in '04, will show a leap in style and substance over A Place in Time. Now I thought the last cd was fantastic but if it's true, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, the new one should be sensational. However, in spite of his enthusiasm for the upcoming cd, Allon's prime motivation remains to produce a smooth jazz "winner". Whether its his own cd or some other artist who has benefited from Sams' flair for production genius seems to him to be irrelevant, as he approaches each endeavour with the highest degree of enthusiasm and dedication. In any event it's certain that we'll be hearing a lot more from this highly talented musician in one form or another in the months and years ahead. I for one can't wait!
Indispensable Smooth Jazz Listening: