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This Week at Café

September 12th, 2004
Edition #333 PreviouslyThis Week at Café - Edition #481 Next

Season Eight in Our Continuing Mission!
Well here we go with yet another superb season of Café Jazz. This is now year eight for our show as we continue to "spread the word" and play all the music that is most dear to us. And what a fantastic program to get us right back on track after a summer hiatus. It begins with the opening piece from The Benoit/Freeman Project and takes off from there. In addition to our regular showcase cd & Fresh Trax features, we're packed with terrific selections from beginning to end. James Vargas, Swing Out Sister, David Lanz, Kenny G, Peter White, Michael Franks, and Shilts are just a few of the names that you'll be hearing....and so it goes! But talking about music is somewhat akin to describing a colour. It really needs to be experienced by the senses in order to be appreciated! I'm doubly excited by this show. Be sure to check out The After Hours Special Feature and you'll know why.

In This Issue:

Player's Club - Marion Meadows

Takin' A Break - Robert Monteleone
Up 'N' At 'Em - Norman Brown
Tell Me So - Kim Waters
Icy - Rafe Gomez
Funhouse - Steve Oliver

AFTER HOURS : Tribute to Tampa
SPINLIST: Spinlist Ed#333

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Showcase CD
Player's Club - Marion Meadows:

Although he began in music on the clarinet, Meadows switched to the sax as a teen. He played in both the school orchestra and the Jazz band, which afforded him the opportunity to travel to Europe. It was during this time that Marion decided to abandon his dream of becoming a veterinarian & instead pursue a career as a musician. He studied at Berklee in Boston for a couple of years and then transferred to S.U.N.Y. to concentrate on arranging and film scoring. After college, Meadows hooked up with Norman Connors and played with Connors' Starship Orchestra for several years.

His big break, however, came one evening on the way home from a gig, when he was playing in Grand Central Station. Marion was spotted by Jay Chattaway who at the time was producing and writing for Bob James. This led to Meadows working with James. It also awakened a desire for Marion to perform as a solo artist, so that in 1990, after a series of session dates and sideman gigs, Meadows made that debut. Now over a dozen years later, Player's Club is his latest.

Hey! Is this the best cd that Meadows has ever recorded? I'm not totally certain of the answer, but it just may be. One thing that I don't doubt though, is that this release is one of the finest to this point in the year. On Player's Club, Meadows continues an association with Michael Broening that began one cd ago. Marion has always exhibited a highly attractive voice on sax. The partnership with Broening, though seems to have kicked things up a notch ...or two! In addition to contributing his production and compositional skills, Broening also handles keyboards & programming duties on several selections. The pairing works exceedingly well. Now the sound and style that Meadows has been honing for years is displayed to perfection as this effort contains some of Meadows' finest work to date and we'd like to take this opportunity to play some for you. There's no shortage of superb music on this ...but as is our custom we've restricted ourselves to only three as we begin our feature with Sweet Grapes, open hour 2 with Suede, & close the show with After 6:00.

CD: Player's Club
Label: Heads Up International
Site: Marion Meadows

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Takin' A Break - Robert Monteleone:
Just Havin' Fun is the debut effort from this talented keyboardist and songwriter. The cd consists of 10 original compositions, all of which were written by Monteleone himself. The melodies are innovative & fresh and laced with irresistible groove laden hooks that well convey Monteleone's creativity and his energetic love for smooth jazz. Helping out on the project is TOP member Roger Smith. Smith is one of the co-producers and he also contributed some keyboard work to several pieces, including the one that we've selected. From Just Havin' Fun, this is a great tune to open today's FT segment and one that features Tom Politzer, also from TOP, on sax. Enjoy!

CD: Just Havin' Fun
Label: MIL Records
Up 'N' At 'Em - Norman Brown:
Growing up in Kansas City, Brown was only 8 when he first became interested in playing guitar. One of his earliest idols was Jimi Hendrix. However, this all changed when Norman's father introduced him to the music of Wes Montgomery. Brown headed to Los Angeles in the mid-'80s to further his studies at the Musician's Institute in Hollywood. Shortly after graduating, he was signed to Motown's MoJazz label. It was with the release of After the Storm, his sophomore project, that Norman burst onto the contemporary scene. Many compared the young guitarist to jazz greats such as Benson & Montgomery himself. Now several cds & a Grammy award later, Brown continues to impress. From his soon to be released West Coast Coolin', we have the advance single. It's a goodie.

CD: West Coast Coolin'
Label: Warner Bros.
Site: Norman Brown

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
Tell Me So - Kim Waters:
The native of Maryland was born into a musical family and picked up his first instrument, the violin, at the age of 8. At thirteen, Waters traded the violin for a sax as he began playing in a band with his brothers. He debuted as a solo artist in 1989. Whereas his earliest efforts boasted an R&B vibe, Kim gradually shifted his playing towards smooth jazz, a conversion which culminated with 1998's Love's Melody. That release generated several hits including Nightfall which was the #1 song for the entire year. To date he's recorded over a dozen projects including his latest entitled In the Name of Love.

CD: In The Name Of Love
Label: Shanachie
Site: Kim Waters
Icy - Rafe Gomez:
A man of many talents, Gomez began in music as a teenager playing drums in a 12-piece cover band called The Funk Machine, in his hometown of Passaic, NJ. While in college in the 80s, he worked as a music research assistant. At about the same time, Rafe was totally taken by the jazz-funk scene that was burgeoning in the UK. After college, he spun discs in clubs and was determined to find a way to further promote the sound that he loved. For 10 years he ran a record label before his enthusiasm in was rekindled. He spent several years creating compositions for soundtracks. Recognizing the opportunity afforded by the Internet, Gomez created a series of mixes that were featured on the Web's premier jazz-funk radio sites. In 2002 he pitched his idea for a jazz mix show to the newly launched Sirius Satellite Radio. The show soon debuted and because of the buzz it created, commercial radio soon followed suit. Gomez coined the show, The Groove Boutique. Based on its popularity, a compilation was created that was representative of the show's music mix. Featured on the disc are the chilled stylings of Icy by Rafe himself.

CD: The Groove Boutique: Volume One ~ A Seamless Blend of Smooth Jazzy Grooves
Label: Tommy Boy Records
Site: The Groove Boutique
Funhouse - Steve Oliver:
Steve first burst onto the music scene back in 1997. Ex-Rippington Steve Reid had asked Oliver to join him on his third Bamboo Forest Project. Oliver not only performed on that recording but also penned 9 of the selections. This led to the release of Oliver's own solo debut a couple of years later. Steve's sophomore project titled Positive Energy was a stellar follow-up effort. It garnered loads of rave reviews including our own CJ endorsement as one of the finest cds of 2002. It now appears that Oliver is intent on exceeding even that effort as he has just issued 3D, his appropriately titled 3rd release. The title of the record works on another level as well, as Steve demonstrates yet another dimension in his playing. Spurred by his love of electronica and the samba flavoured sounds of Brazil, he incorporates elements of these as well as influences from pop, R&B, and world-beat. The album was co-produced by Spyro Gyra's Tom Schuman and includes guests such as saxophonist Eric Marienthal who appears on the selection that we've chosen. On guitar & assorted percussive vocals, Steve Oliver is indeed having fun in the Funhouse on Cafe Jazz.

CD: 3D
Label: Koch Records
Site: Steve Oliver

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An After Hours Special Feature:
Maybe it's something in the Water ~ A Tribute to the Smooth Jazz Artists of Tampa!
If you love your Smooth Jazz with just a bit of talk, this is definitely the right place for you. In addition to our dazzling mix of new and established artists we're foregoing our regular installment of Then & Now. In its place, we're presenting a special feature: A Tribute to Tampa as we focus on some of the hot Smooth Jazz artists that make their home in Florida's Tampa Bay Area . This past summer I had a chance to hang with these gents & get to know them. In recognition of that, I created this Tribute to Tampa set.

Gene Cannon gets things going with St. Augustine from his Outside the Box special edition cd. You may recall that I first wrote about Gene & this track, about a year ago when I sat in on one of the recording sessions. (Please see TCC: Allon Sams - the Sept. 20th, 2003 edition of shownotes.) This one is due for release in the next few months.
We'll also hear In the Pocket by Willie J. Thompson III or TFOXX from his forthcoming project . Time Alone is from Allon's own terrific sophomore cd, A Place in Time (on our indispensable listening list), and has Peter White guesting on the track. As well there's Les Sabler. From Bridge the Gap you'll be hearing Before the Fall and I had the chance to see Les perform a superb live version of that selection just a few weeks ago when he teamed with CITIHEAT at the 42nd Street Bistro in Tampa. And from Eric Darius we have Heads Up, a tune co-written with Ken Navarro and taken from his latest album, Night on the Town. The first four tracks featuring Cannon, TFOXX, Sabler & Sams himself of course were all produced in Allon Sams's Studio A. Five great artists and all from the Tampa area. So it may be true. Maybe it is something in the water!

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