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

January 22nd, 2006
Edition #393 Previously Next

On this edition, we're spotlighting 110° and Rising, the latest from Kevin Toney. Then, for this, the first Back Trax installment in the New Year, we're back with a fabulous five pack of golden listening. Included are George Jinda, Michael O'Neill, Steve Barakatt, Greg Vail, & Noel Elmowy!

Back on the air in Winnipeg!
After a change in format and a change in name (from The Breeze to Café 100); Café Jazz is back on the air in Winnipeg on 100.7 FM. Same great show and the same number on your radio dial, Sunday evenings from 8 to 10 PM!
In This Issue:

110° and Rising - Kevin Toney

Just My Imagination - George Jinda
Certainty of Purpose - Greg Vail
Temptation - Steve Barakatt
Never Too Late - Michael O'Neill
Weavin' - Noel Elmowy

Then & Now - Bob Baldwin

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Showcase CD
110° and Rising - Kevin Toney:

Critics generally agree, Kevin Toney rightly belongs among the elite in the smooth jazz genre. Described by Jonathan Widran as "the master of elegant funk", Toney was born & raised in Detroit and got his start working with Donald Byrd back in the early 70s. Byrd was an instructor at Howard University where Toney attended; the two connected and Kevin took part in Byrd's 1972 release. KT then went on to enjoy a stint with The Blackbyrds, a jazz-funk unit created by Byrd that was composed of some the students that he taught. During his tenure with the band, Toney took part in seven projects including three gold albums, which he co-produced; he also had a hand in several of their hits, including Walking in Rhythm, their #1 smash. Following his graduation from Howard with a B.A. in Composition and Jazz Studies, Toney performed with the Blackbyrds thru until 1981. The following year saw the release of Special K, Toney's solo debut.
Then thru the rest of the 80s, Kevin enjoyed a variety of gigs as he worked with the likes of Ray Parker Jr. and Brenda Russell. During his career, Toney has been the musical conductor for Patti Austin and Michael McDonald. He has recorded or performed as a sideman with Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, & Ray Charles and he has been the musical director for a variety of productions including "Ain't Misbehavin'. Although he issued his first album as a front man in 1982, Toney's career as a solo artist didn't really take off until 1994 & the release of Lovescape, his sophomore effort. That effort yielded a major hit in "Kings". Now with a catalogue of seven releases to his credit, the accolades continue to pour in for Kevin Toney. Urban Network critic, Scott Galloway, writes, "Kevin Toney's touch on the piano is divine, soulful, and hypnotic."
While in Billboard magazine one can read, "Toney's piano skills and ear for melody set him apart from the pack and make him enjoyable and engaging." You'll understand then why it's indeed a treat to spotlight Kevin Toney and his latest release. As the segment unfolds we present It's You and Only You, a track that was co-written with Andre Delano. Opening hour 2 is the ever-so-nicely-chilled Day Trippin'. Finally, as we wrap things up we have 110° and Rising the title track with saxman Gerald Albright featured on the tune that he co-wrote. Imaginative improvisations, lush production, & intricate melodies make this an exceptional feature from beginning to end!

CD: 110° and Rising
Label: Shanachie Entertainment
Site: Kevin Toney

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Back Trax: Part One
Just My Imagination - George Jinda :
The late George Jinda is well remembered for his percussive excellence as one-half of Special EFX. Jinda began playing piano at six but switched to the drums by the time he'd turned 10. In his early years the native of Budapest, Hungary, was inspired by African and South American rhythms and by jazz musicians such as Tony Williams & Jack DeJohnette. In the mid 60s, Jinda's family moved to NYC where several years later he connected with guitarist Chieli Minucci. The two met in 1982, during a series of jam sessions and soon after they laid the groundwork for Special EFX. Sporting a style that was a blend of jazz, new age, fusion & Latin music, Special EFX became one of the most popular groups of the day. They released 13 albums before artistic differences led to a friendly parting of the ways in the mid 90s. In 1996, Jinda enjoyed a pair of releases, one additional Special EFX project and the other a solo album entitled Between Dreams. Sadly, these proved to be his final recorded efforts as the following year he suffered a debilitating stroke from which he never recovered. He remained bedridden until his passing in 2001. Nevertheless, Jinda's optimistic outlook on life comes shining thru in this superb piece that we've chosen for today!

CD: Between Dreams (1996)
Label: Shanachie/Cachet
Certainty of Purpose - Greg Vail:
Greg Vail is a veteran musician who's recorded hundreds of sessions and toured with many of the brightest stars in both Smooth Jazz and Christian music. Inspired by his grandfather, who played professionally, Vail took up the sax at age six. He studied privately & played in school bands throughout junior & senior high. After graduating from Long Beach State with a BA in Music, Vail worked with a number of local groups. Then in 1991, he landed a spot with Kilauea and recorded 4 CDs with them before releasing eMotion his solo debut in 1995. That same year he left Kilauea and signed a deal with Time Life Records. The result was Sax By Candlelight, a collection of 40 love songs that was released in 1996. Touring with Peter White and keyboardist Rob Mullins occupied most of Vail's time for the next few years, so he didn't release another solo project until the year 2000. However, in 2002, Vail obtained the rights to eMotion, and after being remastered and repackaged, the album was re-released and from it we have just an outstanding track. Vail's heart felt performance is unsurpassed and if anything, time has only served to make us more aware of its brilliance!

CD: eMotion (1995/2002)
Label: BrainChild Records/Greg Vail Music
Site: Greg Vail

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Back Trax: Part Two
Temptation - Steve Barakatt:
An accomplished composer & pianist, Barakatt studied classical music for ten years before venturing into the realms of jazz. The young French-Canadian was only thirteen when he was asked to perform as guest soloist with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra. He recorded his debut album the following year and now has several to his credit. Barakatt has toured extensively and has performed in Moscow and various regions of the Orient. He's composed for both TV and film and is also much in demand as a composer & producer. Not limited by the confines of a single genre, Steve enjoys exploring a variety of styles and is fully capable of creating music that's on a par with the very best in smooth jazz! A case in point, this incredible track from his 2002 release!

CD: All About Us (2002)
Label: Ales2 Music
Site: Steve Barakatt
Never Too Late - Michael O'Neill:
For a few years in the 80s, O'Neill performed as a member of Stevie Wonder's back up band. Shortly after he began touring with George Benson and has continued almost nonstop. For nearly two decades, O'Neill has played the guitar bits when Benson steps up to the mike for a vocal while in concert. In spite being established as a top flight sideman, O'Neill felt that it was never too late to embark on a solo career. In fact that's the name he chose for his 2000 debut release and we have a track from that for you. In late breaking news, O'Neill has a new album in the works and we should have something from that you before too long. However, I digress. From Never Too Late we have the excellent title track and a tune that O'Neill co-wrote with Gregg Karukas!

CD: Never Too Late (2000)
Label: Merrimack Records
Site: Michael O'Neill
Weavin' - Noel Elmowy:
In 1979, Elmowy earned a degree in Dental Surgery and since 1982; he's been the principal practitioner in his own clinic. No less skilled as a musician than he is as a surgeon, Noel trained for 10 years as a classical pianist before turning to jazz-fusion. In the early 80s, he served a musical apprenticeship in England before returning to his native Australia. He enjoyed a long-standing gig at "The Basement" one of the premiere jazz clubs in Sydney and he's also appeared in support of Al Jarreau, Dizzy Gillespie, and others, when they've performed down under. The year 2000, saw Elmowy release Feelin' Good his long overdue solo debut, on which he finally revealed his expertise as a producer, keyboardist & composer, a fact that his fellow countrymen had been well aware of for years! From that effort we have Weavin', an incredible selection that's highlighted by the outstanding sax work of Andrew Oh!

CD: Feelin' Good (2000)
Label: Independent Release
Site: Noel Elmowy

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :
On this edition we're spotlighting music from Bob Baldwin on our Then & Now feature. We have the latest from Skip Prokop. Skip was one of the founding members of Lighthouse back in the 60s. Skip is back with a new project that he's called Valecrest and we have something from that. There's new music from Euge Groove and Boz Scaggs as we delve more deeply into their recent releases. We're introducing Jeff Magnus, there's more from William Woods as well as from TFOXX and Jon Fessendon who we introduced a few weeks back and that's all coming up in a great action packed fun filled hour of music!
Then & Now Feature: Bob Baldwin

Cool Breeze

Town Sound

Standing Tall

Brazil Chill
A440 Music

All in a Day's Work
215 Records

Bob Baldwin: In a career stretching back to the 80s, Baldwin is a veteran performer who has had several chart-topping and critically acclaimed efforts. His father Robert Baldwin, Sr. was an accomplished jazz pianist and bassist in his own right who performed with Max Roach and others. Baldwin remembers as a young boy attending some of his father's gigs and getting into the sounds of the traditional jazz that he was hearing. Not surprisingly, Bob Jr. ended up studying classical music and jazz. Stevie Wonder too became a huge influence since Robert Sr. had done a few gigs with Wonder when he played their town.

Photo: Bob Baldwin & Nick Colionne
Courtesy of Nick's Site
Baldwin earned a degree in business administration and then for a time worked for MCI and Sprint Communications. In 1986, he formed The Bob Baldwin/Al Orlo Project, an experience that led Roberta Flack to select the young keyboardist as the 1989 Sony Innovators Award winner. In 1990, Baldwin released his solo debut but the following year, the native of Mount Vernon, New York, returned home after encountering financial difficulties. However, his follow up project in 1992 reached #7 on the contemporary chart. In the next few years, he collaborated with some high calibre talent including the late Grover Washington Jr., Pieces of a Dream, and Marion Meadows. Following this, Baldwin moved to Atlanta where he embarked on a four year touring stint with Meadows while continuing to advance his solo career, now 10 albums deep.

It's the latter part of Baldwin's solo career that we've chosen for the focus of our feature as we pick up the story in 1997 with Cool Breeze. The obvious choice from that album would seem to be Summer Breeze, which went top 20. However, we chose to avoid the obvious and instead selected Ties That Bind. It's a Baldwin original with Larry Coryell guesting that's every bit as good as, if not better than, the track that was the hit. That's followed by Business Call a personal favourite which features Marion Meadows on sax & Tom Browne on trumpet. Next up is The Way She Looked (At Me) from Standing Tall and that's highlighted by the guitar work of Chieli Minucci. From Brazil Chill we have I Wanna Be Where You Are, and finally from All In A Day's Work, Baldwin's latest, we have the title track. In all, a nicely varied and highly creative collection from a veteran keyboardist deserving much broader recognition!

Site: Bob Baldwin

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