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

January 29th, 2006
Edition #394 Previously Next

Special Presentation: Best of '05 - The Final Chapter!
In last few weeks, we've devoted a pair of shows to the musical highlights of '05 and this time out, we're continuing that review with the third and final part in our series of specials. This edition may well be the best of the bunch as this time out, we're featuring Brian Simpson, Chieli Minucci, Euge Groove, and Rick Braun to name just a few.

However, our continuing mission compels us to go well beyond just playing the hits. For that reason, we've also included music from Allon Sams & Matt Jordan as well as from several others that you may hear only here and nowhere else. So get set to enjoy some of the finest music you'll hear anytime anywhere!

In This Issue:

The City - Paul Brown
Take That - Gabriel
Here With You - Brian Simpson
You Got It - 3rd Force
The Juice - Chieli Minucci
Big Slick - Joe McBride


Highlights Hour One
The City - Paul Brown:

We had barely come to a full appreciation of Up Front, Paul Brown's debut release, when the top producer turned front man endowed upon us his follow up project. This fabulous sophomore effort picked up where the preceding album left off and raised the bar even higher. We show cased both albums; Up Front in February and then The City in October, and consequently this pair of projects contributed to Paul Brown being our #5 most played artist for the entire year. Meanwhile, while commercial radio was playing the first single from The City, we panned the album and discovered pure gold! Tracks such as Side Steppin', Hello Again, and the title track resulted in The City being our #11 album for the year!

CD: The City
Label: GRP Records
Site: Paul Brown

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Take That - Gabriel:
I first stumbled upon the music of Gabriel Mark Hasselbach while rummaging around on the old mp3 site back in about 1998. Ever since then, the Vancouver based horn player has been a perennial favourite on our show. By the time, we here at The Café had climbed on board the Hasselbach express, the veteran musician and former member of The Powder Blues Band had already recorded an impressive catalogue of releases. This was made all the more noteworthy by the fact that there was very little if any radio support for this form of instrumental music here in Canada. Nevertheless, buoyed by the format's increasing popularity, Gabriel's sound has been heard across the land and he's made major inroads into the US thereby somewhat fulfilling the prophecy of "a talent deserving much broader recognition" as he has been described.

In any event, the Denver born trumpeter & multi-instrumentalist has remained a stalwart in our mix! His 2005 release, First Name Basis was our #14 most played cd for all of '05. The album's lead single, Take That, was the #13 most played track and Hasselbach was our # 10 most played artist overall! Meanwhile, on the Canadian scene, Gabriel scored the #1 album, and #2 track, while maintaining his postion as our #1 most played Canadian artist for the second year in a row!

CD: Gabriel ... First Name Basis
Label: Wind Tunnel Multimedia
Sites: Gabriel ; GMH
Here With You - Brian Simpson:
Here's a veteran musician whose meteoric rise on the Smooth Jazz charts has been a long time coming! After worldly excursions with Teena Marie, Sheena Easton, and Janet Jackson, Simpson gravitated to jazz. He performed with some contemporary greats, released a solo album, and took part in a pair of projects as a member of the four-piece combo Rhythm Logic. But, for the most of the last ten years, he's been a member of Dave Koz's band while for the past eight, he's also doubled as Koz's musical director. The combination of experiences served Simpson well! That and some optimum timing resulted in the release of It's All Good. From the very first listen, there was absolutely no doubt about it; we had in our hands one of the finest releases for the year! Now, as the rest of the smooth jazz world plays catch up, we're sitting here reflecting on the music that we've been enjoying for months and take pleasure in acknowledging It's All Good as our #10 album for 2005! Meanwhile, Simpson earned additional kudos for the Café Jazz #12 selection, and as our #18 artist, and #2 breakthru artist!

CD: It's All Good
Label: Rendezvous Entertainment
Site: Brian Simpson

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Highlights Hour Two
You Got It - 3rd Force:
2005 marked the return of William Aura & Co with their first studio project in about 3 years and their seventh album overall. The record was the initial release since their live premier at the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival a couple of years back. Their numbers now bolstered by the addition of Xavier Marshall & DJ Radius, the sound of The Force has never reverberated more robustly. The use of heavily laden percussive grooves and a highly volatile horn section have long been key elements to their success. In that latter regard, Richard Hardy on sax & flute and Mitch Manker on trumpet & flugelhorn, make their formal debuts on the album. Over the years, both have frequently lent sonic support to the Force's recorded efforts. Finally, there is a dazzling array of guest talent led by Marc Antoine & Greg Adams. All of these contributed to Driving Force being named our #8 album for '05 while 3rd Force was overall our #4 most played artist for the year!

CD: Driving Force
Label: Higher Octave Music
The Juice - Chieli Minucci:
After his 20-plus years in the limelight, you might be wondering, "What's new for our man Minucci?" Well, it seems that in the last few, Chieli has kicked things into high gear! After a dozen years as one-half of the seminal world fusion unit Special EFX, the Emmy Award winner (for his efforts on The Guiding Light) has worked with the likes of Celine Dion & The Backstreet Boys. Yet for the past ten years, he's continued to cut a broad creative swath in smooth jazz as a producer, guest musician, and solo performer and for the past few as the leader of the resurrected Special EFX. In so doing, Minucci has laid all the groundwork for greatness!

It has become abundantly apparent; these latter aspects of his life as a musician continue to provide the greatest stimulus and reward not only for Minucci but also for the legion of fans he's cultivated over the years. In spite of previous accomplishments and the accompanying accolades, Minucci continues to forge new paths in music all while ably demonstrating the qualities of an artist who is totally dedicated to his craft! As such, it's not at all surprising to find Minucci's name in several spots on our year end most played summary. In fact, Chieli was the #6 most played artist for all of 2005 while providing us with the #2 cd and the #3 track for Got It Goin' On and The Juice respectively!

CD: Got It Goin' On
Label: Shanachie
Site: Chieli Minucci
Big Slick - Joe McBride:
Texas Hold'em is the variant of poker that's recently been responsible for its unsurpassed popularity not only as a game but also as a spectator sport. It's also the name of the latest recorded effort from Joe McBride. On this, his seventh release for Heads Up International, McBride has fashioned a truly unique project as he renders for our consideration a classic set! All the song titles reflect poker-oriented terms from Double Down, The River, and No Limit, to All In and One Eyed Jack. However, the titles themselves only hint at some of the fun as far from trying to cashing in on the popularity of poker McBride presents one of his finest overall efforts to date! Narrowly missing the top twenty of our most played albums in the year, this cd is chock full of quality selections and in truth was well deserving of greater attention on our part. Nevertheless, we're extremely pleased to finally have this all figured out as we present Big Slick, the opening track. Now in the vernacular of the sport, the term Big Slick represents the combined holding of Ace King, considered as one of the best starting hands. Although this evaluation can change dramatically 'after the flop', you can bet this track is a fabulous opener on a absolute winner of an album!

CD: Texas Hold'em
Label: Heads Up International

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
With one final creative burst, we cap off 11 hours of music that's been exclusively devoted to the sounds of 2005. On this last page in our Best of '05 series of specials, we've lined up selections from Eric Marienthal, Kirk Whalum, and Swing Out Sister. Also slotted are Anthony Pope, Herb Alpert, Nelson Rangell, Rich Arnold and Mike Young, Donny Osmond with his biggest hit in 30 years, Lino, Veronica Martell, Andreas Vollenweider, and Kevin Toney!

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