Featuring the Smooth Groove of Today's Jazz!
This Week at CaféJazz.ca

January 30th, 2005
Edition #348 Previously Next

Special Presentation:
The 3rd & Concluding Episode in our Best of 2004 Series

It was a fantastic year! Week after week one top caliber album after another found its way into our studios. On this program, we conclude our review with the third and final installment in our Best of 2004, and I've saved some of the best music just for this occasion. On this show SOS, Demo Cates, and Craig Chaquico are among the artists that we're featuring in hour one. Then in hour two, we have Bob Baldwin, Jonathan Cain, Soul Ballet, & Fattburger, all very familiar names in SJ circles. But if you're a regular listener, you no doubt are well aware that there's more to creating a meaningful musical experience than just playing hits. Our continuing mission is one that's all about style and mood. For that reason we'll be playing selections from Vince Madison, Frankie Cendejas & a few other incredible musicians that you may hear only here and nowhere else. This is music that will not only speak to your soul, it will also soothe your spirit!

In This Issue:

Chips & Salsa - Steve Oliver
Montecito - Benoit/Freeman
Where Love Will...- Torcuato Mariano
In The Pocket - Eric Darius
Blossom - Machan
Breathless - Alan Hewitt Project


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Highlights Hour One
Chips & Salsa - Steve Oliver:
3D is the fittingly titled 3rd album from Mr. Oliver that was released this past year. With each successive project, Steve has been able to reveal new & exciting dimensions in his music. Spurred by his love of electronica and the samba-flavoured sounds of Brazil, Oliver mixes elements of these with influences from pop, R&B, and world-beat. Several top-shelf players such as Harvey Mason & Eric Marienthal are included on the all-star guest list. The album was co-produced by Spyro Gyra's Tom Schuman who performs on all the tracks. 3D was among our most played albums for the year and it may well represent Oliver's finest effort to date!

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

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Montecito - The Benoit/Freeman Project:
Not surprisingly, the teaming of two top artists in the genre results in one of the top albums for the year. Benoit and Freeman first worked together back in 1986 on Moonlighting, the landmark debut from The Rippingtons. Following this, Freeman pursued a career as leader of that band and as a guitarist and producer. Meanwhile, Benoit continued a highly successful solo career that has made him one of the most popular artists in Smooth Jazz. In 1994, they came together on a full-fledged collaboration that was appropriately titled The Benoit/Freeman Project. Considering their previous work, this was in a sense a reunion album. The success of that album has for many years fueled demand for a follow-up record. Although there have been other occasions on which Freeman & Benoit have combined their efforts, it has only been on a track or two. Now a decade later, the time seemed right for another reunion! The wait was well worth it!

CD: The Benoit/Freeman Project 2
Label: Peak Records
Web Site: Benoit-Freeman/Concord
Where Love Will Take - Torcuato Mariano:
Throughout the 80s and early 90s Mariano worked at establishing himself on the Brazilian music scene. In that regard, he quickly developed into a highly respected player. In short order, he performed with Leo Gandelman at a festival in Rio and then toured Europe with Ivan Lins. In addition, Mariano earned a reputation as a first call session musician and recorded with many of Brazil's finest, including Sergio Mendes. However, it wasn't until the mid 90's that Torcuato began to work at establishing a solo career. His debut cd marked the first time that a Brazilian album was released simultaneously in both that country and the USA. It was very well received and led to touring in the States. His sophomore effort followed in 1995 and achieved even greater success. The single Ocean Way ranked among the top 20 songs for the year while the album itself placed in the top 30 for smooth jazz radio. In spite of this success, Torcuato has been conspicuous by his absence on the North American scene as for the past several years he chose to work as head of A&R for a major label in Brazil. Now, after a hiatus of nearly ten years, Torcuato issued Diary, an excellent album for which should he merits consideration as the "comeback artist of the year".

CD: Diary
Label: 215 Records

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Highlights Hour Two
In The Pocket - Eric Darius:
In spite of the fact that he's still a student at the University of Southern Florida, Darius is quickly developing into one of the brightest young stars in Smooth Jazz. 2004 was a great year for the young saxplayer from Tampa FL. His sophomore release, titled Night on the Town was produced by Ken Navarro and brought Eric loads of attention. He was invited to play at the prestigious Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival and was later named The Smooth Jazz News Debut Artist for the year...all that in addition to earning our own endorsement for releasing one of the finest breakthrough projects in the year! Way to go Eric!

CD: Night on the Town
Label: Higher Octave Music
Web Site: Eric Darius
Blossom - Machan:
Although her family wasn't at all connected to show biz, Machan Taylor just naturally gravitated to music and to entertainment. She started performing as a ballet & tap dancer, taught herself how to play guitar , and early on moved to NYC to further her career. After a short stint studying jazz theory & vocal performance, Machan toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra as the featured vocalist. She appeared live with Sting & Pink Floyd and was the lead singer for Hiroshima from 1988 thru until 1991. Ms Taylor toured with Bobby Caldwell for a couple of years and she's also worked with George Benson & Pat Benatar. Now back in NYC, Machan is well established as a session singer while she continues working in commercials and in scores for film & TV. Most recently she appeared on the track Icy recorded by Rafe Gomez of The Groove Boutique. Yet she still found time to fulfill a personal dream when she finally released her solo debut in 2004. From her self-titled project, I've selected a fabulous tune on which Brazilian meets chill! Definitely one of the finer original tracks in '04!

CD: Machan
Label: A440 Music Group
Web Site: Machan
Breathless - Alan Hewitt Project:
Hewitt is a seasoned songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. He's not only well-versed at piano and keyboards, he also plays drums and percussion as well as handling drum programming. Although Alan has released several cds under his own name, for the most part he's spent his career in support of artists all the way from EW&F to Donnie Osmond. He's also achieved a fair degree of recognition as an award-winning composer for film & TV, which more or less brings us to the present. Hewitt's latest effort is Noche de Pasion and is billed as the Alan Hewitt Project. Recording this album as a project enabled Alan to stretch out creatively in ways that he couldn't have had it just been a solo effort. The cd is a very well-crafted. It's packed with catchy melodies and hypnotic rhythms and as such provides much for those who enjoy style as well as substance in their listening. From that effort we present the dynamic drive of Breathless which features the trumpet of Steve Madaio!

CD: Noche de Pasion
Label: 215 Records
Web Site: Alan Hewitt

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
This is it, the chapter that closes the book on our Best of 2004 series. Believe it or not after 11 full hours of music we're finally bringing the entire Best of 2004 affair to its ultimate conclusion. There are well over 20 selections, so in order to play all the music that we need to play I've slotted an extended installment. You'll hear a track from Maximum Grooves the project spearheaded by Jason Miles. Barry Danielian, a top NYC session trumpeter, is on the show with a superb tune from his solo album. We have music from Jeff Kashiwa, Plan 9, Everette Harp, & Pete Belasco among many others. But even so, we don't stop there. In a never ending effort to give you all that you would expect ...and more, I'm also pleased to provide a bit of a glimpse into the future. We're closing this segment of AH with a pair of tracks from TFOXX and Gene Cannon, a couple of great musicians located in Tampa FL that I got the chance to hang with this past summer. Each has an album scheduled for release later this year. As prepared the music for this show and stared intently into my musical crystal ball, it became very clear that these are destined to be featured on our best of '05 series of specials about one year from now!

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