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Show Notes The Café Jazz Newsletter

January 3, 2004
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Special Presentation - The Café Jazz Best of 2003 - Part 1
For our first show of the new year we take a look back ... 2003 was a tremendous one for Smooth Jazz, and now is the time when all this fantastic music comes together. We begin our review of last year's musical highlights with the first of a three-part presentation, The Café Jazz Best of 2003. On this occasion, we have music from The Jazzmasters, David Benoit, Eric Marienthal & Special EFX to name but a few. However, as part of our continuing mission we go well beyond playing just the hits or the hit makers. Style and mood are integral to what we're all about. As such you'll be hearing from artists like Sam McNally, Jason Weber, & Igor, the smooth saxman out of Australia, as well as many other fresh & cool sounds. So sit back, relax and get set to enjoy the unique listening experience that we call Café Jazz.

Highlights Hour One
Cubanova - Marc Antoine:
One of the most talented guitarist in SJ and also one of the most innovative, Antoine is able to seamlessly incorporate elements of his classical training with jazz, world, and many contemporary urban influences. Starting with the release of Classical Soul, his solo debut, Marc has shown much promise as a leader in the SJ genre and a player with unlimited potential. Although all of his previous releases have shown many flashes of Antoine’s brilliance, with the issue of Mediterraneo, his sixth and most recent effort, Antoine leads us to the Promised Land. This latest project is packed with great grooves, fabulous guitar work, innovative ideas, and memorable melodies. In short it's his most consistent effort to date and for us ranks as his finest outing thus far.

CD: Mediterraneo (2003)
Label: Rendezvous Entertainment
Site: Marc Antoine

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Athens Park - Paul Jackson Jr.:
A composer, arranger, producer and guitarist, Jackson is well known as a skilled and versatile session player. Over the years Jackson has recorded with most of the biggest names in entertainment and as well has worked at establishing his own solo career. Titled Still Small Voice, (the title being an allusion to a passage in the Bible), this release is Jackson’s 6th overall. Melody and mood are key ingredients as they are skillfully combined with Jackson’s always superb playing resulting in what may very well represent this spiritual artist’s finest project to date.

CD: Still Small Voice (2003)
Label: Blue Note Records
Site: Paul Jackson Jr.

Thoughts of You - Freddie Fox:
Out of Tullahoma, Tennessee comes Mr. Fox, who for the past eighteen years has travelled the world touring with many top artists, (including Evelyn "Champagne" King, who happens to be Mrs. Fox.) Freddie knew at an early age that music would be his life. He’s been influenced by many of the great on guitar such as Benson and Hendrix, and has also added trumpet, keyboards, and bass guitar to his repertoire. He studied at the Berklee College of Music for four years and then later followed that up with private lessons. Definitely not lacking in musical credentials, Freddie has taken part in dozens of sessions, done TV and film work, and produces and writes music as well. Finally, finding the time to record his own solo project, Freddie’s self-titled debut was released a short while ago. There's no shortage of great music on this one.

CD: Freddie Fox (2003)
Label: Foxhole Records
Site: Freddie Fox

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Highlights Hour Two
Sweet Talk - Eric Marienthal:
In a genre that is heavily laden with sax players, there may be only a handful that might be considered as great musicians. These would be an illustrious few who continue to grow in their craft and who not only stretch the boundaries of Smooth Jazz but are sought out time and time again for the versatility and quality of their playing. One such artist, whose talent is unsurpassed and belongs on any short list of the best in the business, would be LA native, Eric Marienthal.

Now 15 years into a very busy and multifaceted career, Marienthal continues to explore new creative territory, with Sweet Talk, his latest and 10th release overall. Although the cd features collaborations with several long time friends and players from the West Coast, for the most part the project was recorded in NYC. It sees Marienthal hook up with award winning producer Jason Miles and a few of the Big Apple’s finest players. The album hits the mark squarely, navigating through some tricky terrain as it forges into fresh territory and yet maintains a familiarity that is reassuring. As such, in my humble opinion, it ranks as one of Eric’s most distinguished efforts to date. Among the many highlights is the title track, a tune that Marienthal wrote with his 13-year old son Robert, and the one that we've selected on this occasion.

* Marienthal appears on several selections that made our year end Best of list; on Catalina Breeze by Sean Mason & Solar Wind, with Lisa Hilton on So Lucky, together with Brian Hughes on Wherever You Are, not to mention his work as a member of The Rippingtons. As such Eric Marienthal is our choice as Top Smooth Jazz Artist for 2003. *

CD: Sweet Talk (2003)
Label: Peak Records
Site: Eric Marienthal
Rue Clarendon - Nura:
Originally hailing from Ottawa, Nura studied voice training at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She spent several years touring with various groups singing Folk, Rock and Jazz and it was during this period that she met Stuart Steinhart, a most innovative musician, bassist & composer . The two teamed up with drummer Randy Cooke with the result being a fresh amalgams of styles that has evolved into the sound of Nura. Her self-titled debut quickly became recognised as one of the finest releases in Canadian contemporary music in recent times.

CD: Nura (2003)
Label: St*art Music
Get It On - Special EFX:
Party is the latest project to bear the Special EFX banner. The name of the project is totally appropriate as the cd carries all the flavour and variety of a party from the first few beats right until the final groove driven chords fade. It’s a party mood that’s saturated with a dance club feel, with interesting musical detours into chill and some slightly more exotic styles along the way. In addition to Chieli’s tantalizing guitar & keyboard work, the cd features David Mann on sax and flute. The musical chemistry between the two is undeniable and results in an exhilarating experience of sound and style with long time Special EFX bassist Jerry Brooks (he's appeared on EFX's records since about 1993 or so) and Emedin Rivera on percussion perfectly filling out the sound of the combo.

CD: Party (2003)
Label: Shanachie
Site: Chieli Music

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