Presentation - The Quarterly Review:
|Highlights Hour One
Lowdown - Boz Scaggs:
You've heard it before, but never done this way. Boz Scaggs, is back with a slowed down & unplugged cover of Lowdown, his own classic hit from the 70s. Scaggs debuted in the mid 60s as a member of The Steve Miller Band, before going solo with a self-titled release in 1969. The Texas native went on to become one of the most popular artists of the day. His 1976 Silk Degrees album chalked up sales in excess of 5 million copies & coasted to a two run on the charts. Despite having several of the biggest hits of that era, Boz has enjoyed relative obscurity for much of his career. He spent most of the 80s in retirement, owning and operating a nightclub in San Francisco, before reappearing in 1988. He's had several well received projects in the period since, in spite of the fact that they haven't matched the success of his heyday. Fade Into Light is the most recent of these & one that may alter that later trend.
|Although it's just been issued here in North America, the
album had been released in Japan back in 1999 & been available only as
a pricey import. The NA version has been newly remastered with a couple
of extra selections & a few DVD features as an added bonus. For the most
part, Boz produced the album a notable exception being Lowdown itself.
Helping out Scaggs with the production duties on that track was David
Paich, part of the original song writing team & also the arranger for
Silk Degrees. In any event, if less is indeed more, then the new version
of Lowdown is everything that the original version was & then some!
CD: Fade Into Light
Label: Virgin Records
Site: Boz Scaggs
Into You - Gregg Karukas:
Karukas found his way into the jazz clubs and studios of the Washington, DC - Baltimore area right out of high school & while still a teen. He quickly developed into one of the more highly regarded fusion and studio players around. In 1983, he moved to LA with the desire to play with as many other artists as possible in order to expand his keyboard style. Thanks to a recommendation by Russell Ferrante (whom he'd met years earlier while still playing on his home circuit), Karukas was soon performing with the likes of Patti Austin, Richard Elliot, Grant Geissman, & others. Following a 1-1/2 year stint backing Melissa Manchester, he started his own group. Dave Koz, Gary Meek and Boney James, were among the first young undiscovered sax talents to join his band. Gregg released his solo debut in 1987 and later that same year, he took part in the very first Rippingtons project. In the period since Karukas has became well known for his melodic & tasteful arrangements. His albums have been well received, he's had a pair of #1 hits and he's long been one of our favourites here at The Café. Looking Up is his debut on trippin 'n' Rhythm Records, 10th release overall and ranks right up there with his finest releases !! We'll be going to this one often, as I've already slotted several tracks for this & subsequent shows.
CD: Looking Up
Label: trippin 'n' Rhythm Records
Site: Gregg Karukas
Free - Robin Avery:
Robin Avery is a relatively new name on the scene, since for a time she took a substantial detour away from music. The native of South Florida became immersed in academia & in fact worked very hard to earn a PhD in psychology. While in California, Robin swung to a career in neuropsychology, working with patients with head injuries and with stroke victims. However, she never really abandoned her passion for music. In 1995, Avery returned to Florida and gravitated to her lifelong love of writing music & singing her own compositions. Her debut release issued in 2000, presented a set of romantic ballads with meaningful lyrics & an interesting blend of musical flavours & gained some national exposure in the US. Following on that success, The Way You Hold Me is now her 3rd & latest effort. Collaborating with Ms Avery on the project was Paul Banman, who cowrote many of the selections & also contributed his keyboard work to the effort. This album shows a substantial leap in Avery's style with several of the selections being exceptional. We've chosen the expressive Finally Free which in our humble opinion ranks as one of the finest vocal tracks for the year.
CD: The Way You Hold Me
Label: Independent Release
Site: Robin Avery
|Highlights Hour Two|
Hot - Larry Gittens:
A veteran musician and a versatile performer, Larry Gittens had his musical story begin in a small town in New Jersey just outside of Philadelphia. Self-taught on trumpet as well as on keys, Larry was named Best Jazz Trumpeter in the state by Down Beat magazine and then went on to study at Berklee in Boston. He spent some time teamed with the late Grover Washington Jr., before landing a gig in Wonderlove. Gittens appeared on six albums and readily acknowledges the encouragement that Wonder provided for him to pave his own way in music.
More recently, Larry performed with Kool & the Gang. He's also been associated with projects by bassist Jimmy Haslip and another from Bobby Caldwell. A couple of years back Gittens released Dual Identity, his debut effort as a lead man. Although he made his mark in pop music, Gittens handles the transition to jazz-flavoured music with ease. Now he's back with his latest project and from it we have the advance single. It all seems very natural as Larry now gives us his version of the track that he's no doubt performed on countless occasions with Kool & The Gang.
Label: Human Feel Records
Hey Young World - Gerald Albright & Kevin Toney:
LA native, Gerald Albright first made a name for himself in the 80s as a session player. Meanwhile keyboardist Kevin Toney's career goes back to the 70s when he appeared with Donald Byrd as a member of the group Blackbyrds. Over the years, each has developed into a highly versatile performer well versed at playing just about any style. Each has established a successful solo career that places him in a select circle among the elite of the smooth jazz genre. We now see the teaming of these two veteran performers on Hey Young World from the compilation Def Jazz.
Record producer, Tony Joseph is the man behind the Def Jazz project. A former DJ both on LA radio and on the club scene, Joseph's first forays into fusing hip hop & smooth jazz resulted in the Unwrapped series of albums. Hip hop has foiled the experts. Rather than being a passing fad as many predicted, it has reached the threshold of its 25th year. In particular, the Def Jam record label which has housed many of the biggest names in the genre, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2005. In recognition of this, Def Jazz was released. The strategy was to provide smooth jazz interpretations of rap classics from the Def Jam catalogue. Joseph spearheaded the entire affair, scouring the label's vault for tracks to cover & assembling an all star cast of players. It's that album's first single that we go to, a very cool treatment of an obscure track first recorded by Slick Rick back in 1988.
CD: Def Jazz
Label: GRP Records
Sites: Gerald Albright ; Kevin Toney
Groove - Kenny Carr:
California native Kenny Carr's took up his first instrument, the violin, at age nine. By the age of eleven though, Carr had discovered guitar & that proved to be his passion in life. Growing up in the beach community of Santa Cruz, Carr was exposed to its vibrant scene. As a teen he studied jazz theory & by 16, he was already performing at local venues. He attended Berklee in Boston after high school but during his final year in 1986, he was invited to audition for Ray Charles. Carr recalls, "I remember running onto the stage as Mr. Charles instructed me to 'play the blues'." He got the gig & ended up touring with the late legendary performer for over a decade.
Friday at Five, originally recorded in a small Manhattan studio back in 1997, is now Carr's long over due debut. The project was intended only as a demo but afforded Carr & a few of his old buds from Santa Cruz a chance to reconnect.
To quote Kenny, "Magical things can happen when the right musicians are brought together under the right circumstances." The project was finished in a couple of days and for some reason lay forgotten somewhere in a vault, that is until now. Having toured with someone the stature of Ray Charles for the length of time that he did, you would expect the guy's gotta be good!! Carr provides more than ample evidence of that fact with the selection we've chosen!
CD: Friday At Five
Label: Artistry Music
Site: Kenny Carr
|After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:|
We're continuing with more of the smooth grooves from the past 3 months of 2005. You'll hear music from Bona Fide, Kem, 3D, Kim Waters, Gerald Veasley, Joe McBride, & Euge Groove, although it may not always be the track that you're expecting!! Also included in the lineup though are artists that quite likely you'll hear only here, great stuff from ShelbyBrown, Danny Federici, Shady Grady, William Woods, Cantoma, & Anthony Pope. There's more but we're not about to waste a single minute talking about the music we just dive right in and play it!