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This Week at CaféJazz.ca

January 14th, 2007
Edition #430 Previously Next

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This Week at CafeJazz.ca!
In addition to our features, there's a retro pack with Rick Braun, Dancing Fantasy, and Bernard Oattes towards the end of hour 2, while Fourplay, Joyce Cooling, Richard Elliot and Pieces of a Dream are gently sprinkled here and there thruout our opening hour!

Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards!
I've been nominated!
The 3rd Annual Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards will take place on Friday April 27, 2007 in Hammerson Hall at The Living Arts Centre, Mississauga Ontario and in news that's a bit 'closer to home', yours truly has been nominated in the broadcaster category!
In This Issue:

20th Anniversary - The Rippingtons

Waterfall - Jim Brickman
Sunset - David Longoria
You're Beautiful - Kenny G
The Hypnotic - Rhonda Smith
Did You Hear That? - Ken Navarro

Then & Now - Doc Powell

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Showcase CD
20th Anniversary - The Rippingtons:

Nashville native, Russ Freeman began playing guitar at age 10 and early on, he was lured into the studio world by a friend of his father's. By the time he'd turned 16, Freeman was already performing record dates, and then in 1978 he moved to LA to study at Cal Arts and UCLA. By early in '86, Freeman appeared as a Monday night regular at the famed Baked Potato in North Hollywood playing with Tony Morales, Steve Reid, Bill Lanphier, and Gregg Karukas. In April of that same year, Freeman released Nocturnal Playground, his solo debut, and following its success, there was label interest in having Freeman produce a project. Calling upon Karukas and Reid in addition to David Benoit, Kenny G, Dave Koz, Brandon Fields, and a few others he'd been playing with, Freeman oversaw the release of Moonlighting, the official Rippingtons' debut, and so named because all the performers were nurturing fledgling solo careers.With the release of Kilimanjaro in 1988, demand for live dates set the stage for The Rippingtons to hit the road and begin touring with a set line-up.
The rest is, as they say, history as what had began as a studio project evolved into one of the most popular ensembles of the late 80s and into the top selling smooth jazz band of the 90s. Over the years personnel continued to come and go; band membership has included several high profile players - Mark Portmann, Jeff Kashiwa, Paul Taylor, and Eric Marienthal - the latter two had already established successful solo careers before their stint with The Ripps. These elements of change, Freeman's propensity to feature top name guests, and various influences from the regions where Freeman has resided, have all allowed The Rippingtons' sound to stay vibrant and fresh thruout the life of the band. It's fair to say the ensemble has weathered numerous changes. In fact, apart from the 'jazz cat' logo, (created by Bill Mayer) Freeman remains the only constant. The year 2006 marked the 20th anniversary of the first Russ Freeman fronted project and to commemorate this milestone, Freeman invited many past members in creating The Rippingtons 20th Anniversary album, a deluxe cd/dvd package. Familiar names such as Kashiwa, Reid, and Morales once again take a turn in what remains as one of the most popular acts in the genre. Also contributing are many of the original crew, among them David Benoit, Gregg Karukas and Brandon Fields. It's now with pleasure that we help The Rippingtons in celebrating by spotlighting 20th Anniversary on our program!
Photo Courtesy of Rippingtons.com
As usual, we're presenting a choice complement of three very tasty tracks beginning with Celebrate. Paul Taylor and Kirk Whalum both appear on this selection, accompanied by the AAA-horn section of Jerry Hey, Gary Grant (both on trumpet), and Bill Reichenbach (on trombone). Dave Koz is featured on the tender A Kiss Under The Moonlight that launches our second hour while Tony Morales on drums, Steve Reid on percussion, and Jimmy Johnson on bass, play on both tracks. Gregg Karukas handles piano on the track and to that adds keyboard duties for Bingo Jingo, which closes the feature. Hey, Grant, and Reichenbach once again perform, this time in support of saxman Brandon Fields.

CD: 20th Anniversary
Label: Peak Records
Site: Rippingtons

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Waterfall - Jim Brickman:
Classically trained Cleveland native Jim Brickman began his career writing jingles while a college student, but by 1994, he had turned to recording romantic pop songs and in this respect, he has been extremely successful. Within a dozen years, Brickman has achieved six Gold and Platinum selling albums, three #1 and twelve Top 10 radio hits. He earned a Grammy nomination (2003), and among other accolades, he won Songwriter of the Year (SESAC) as well as a Canadian Country Music Award for Best Vocal/ Instrumental Collaboration. Equally successful in other artistic endeavours, Brickman has hosted a successful weekly syndicated radio show, Your Weekend with Jim Brickman, (just what I need, high profile competition) for several years and written two best-selling books of essays while his albums consistently debut at #1 on Billboard's New Age chart. Releasing records at a rate of better than one a year, Escape is Brickman's first release of original solo material in several years. From that effort, we have the opening track!

CD: Escape
Label: SLG Music
Site: Jim Brickman
Sunset (La Puesta del Sol) - David Longoria:
David Longoria was trained classically before discovering jazz and the infinite improvisational possibilities it afforded. He's excelled as a soloist, while performing with orchestras and bands around the world. In addition, he's worked with many top artists from virtually every genre of music; the names of Sting and George Michael appear on that list. Described as unique and compelling, Longoria's music is blend of styles and reflects Latin as well as jazz roots. From the advance sampler for Baila, his debut, we have Sunset or La Puesta Del Sol, featuring Marc Antoine on guitar!

EP: Sunset
Label: Del Oro Music

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
You're Beautiful - Kenny G:
Following the success of At Last …The Duets Album a couple of years ago, Kenny G issued a seasonal compilation; he now releases another album of standards, somewhere around his 18th album overall at least as far as we could determine from the G-Man's site. On this cd, the G-Dude returns to a purely instrumental treatment of what have been identified, correctly or not, as some of the most romantic melodies of all time. Love him or hate him, G's phrasing and sound are instantly recognizable. And for those who do enjoy the warmth and honesty in Kenny's style of delivery, we present the opening track on the disc!

CD: I'm In The Mood For Love
(The Most Romantic Melodies of All Time)

Label: Arista Records
Site: Kenny G
The Hypnotic - Rhonda Smith:
With about a twenty-year career in music, Rhonda Smith released her solo debut in 2000, while, for close to a decade, she's played bass for and toured with Prince. Smith was born into a musical family and hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia. When she was a child, the clan relocated to the jazz-influenced and vibrant milieu of Montreal where she learned how to play bass along with the baritone horn, keyboards, and guitar. She began touring Canada with rock groups while studying jazz performance at McGill University, later winning a Juno Award (Canada's equivalent to a Grammy) for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for her work with The Merlin Factor. A chance meeting with Sheila E. at a German music convention, lead to an audition with His Royal Badness who hired her on the spot. In addition to her work with Prince, Ms Smith has performed with Chaka Khan, Beyonce, Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour, Little Richard, and Najee among many others. Now with RS2, her sophomore release, Smith takes another important step in breaking thru as a solo artist in her own right. From that release, we have The Hypnotic with Joey Sommerville on trumpet and keys!

Label: 215 Records
Site: Rhonda Smith

Did You Hear That? - Ken Navarro:
The trouble with superlatives in a review is the difficulty in fairly describing subsequent projects. Such could have the case with Ken Navarro and The Meeting Place. We loved Love Coloured Soul, his previous release, raving about many of the selections contained therein and rightly so. Fortunately, Mr. Navarro has made my task much easier by simply outdoing himself! To some extent, Navarro has reinvented his studio sound, incorporating much of the energy of a live performance by doubling on both the acoustic and electric guitars. Meanwhile, those catchy riffs and hook-laden grooves, that for many years have been a Navarro calling card, are still present and as appealing as ever. So now with this 17th and latest release, Ken Navarro once again lays claim to the title as jazz's most soulful smooth guitarist while providing an early odds on favourite to be a Café Jazz favourite in 2007!

CD: The Meeting Place
Label: Positive Music
Site: Ken Navarro

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :
This edition features selections past & present from Doc Powell. We've taken a liberal sampling of Powell music, a total of seven tracks, and we'll be featuring that as part of an extended Then & Now feature; that's coming up about 15 minutes in. Otherwise, new and never-been-played-on-the-show music is in the spotlight; today that's from Boney James and Lee Ritenour, while from the second tribute to Luther Vandross, we have a track by Wayman Tisdale. Also appearing is Kyle Eastwood while brand new to our show are the sounds of Kymaera and Bill McGee. Matter of fact we're starting with another newcomer; from Michael Vince and his self-titled extended play we have a tune that bears the name of our feature!
Then & Now Spotlight Feature: Doc Powell

Inner City Blues
West Coast Records
Laid Back
Discovery Records
Don't Let the Smooth Jazz Fool Ya
Life Changes
Samson /
Gold Circle

97th & Columbus
DPR Music / Heads Up
Cool Like That
DPR Music / Heads Up

Doc Powell
DPR Music / Heads Up

Doc Powell: Doc Powell was only six when he first picked up a guitar and began teaching himself how to play. In his teens, he was recording and performing professionally while later he attended the University of Charleston in West Virginia, to further his musical knowledge. Powell was barely in his 20s when he landed his first high profile gig, as Wilson Pickett's musical director. The experience with Pickett proved a valuable training ground and led to Powell hooking up with Luther Vandross in about 1982, while Luther was still early in his career.

Photo Courtesy of DocPowell.com

That affiliation spanned a dozen or so years and stretched thru to the mid-90s, a period during which Powell's guitar became an integral part of the Vandross sound; The Doctor also doubled as Luther's musical director and performed on many of Luther's most successful albums. Playing with Vandross made Powell sought-after as a musician, and his session work expanded to include many of the elite in music, performers such as Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick in R&B and Grover Washington, Jr., and Bob James in jazz. In 1987, and while still touring with Vandross, Powell released his solo debut, earning a Grammy-nomination for his cover of the Marvin Gaye classic, What's Going On. The Doctor, his sophomore release followed a few years later. However, it wasn't until 1994's Inner City Blues that Powell began to pursue his own career in earnest. Powell self-funded the latter project, the first on his own West Coast Records, and was ready to "sell it door to door". That proved unnecessary as the album turned out to be a huge success, spawning Sade's Song, in our humble opinion, a quintessential smooth jazz track of the 90s. A couple of years later, Doc enjoyed his biggest commercial success with Laid Back voted the #2 jazz record for all of 1996, by year's end.

Although subsequent projects haven't quite matched that success, the recent issue of Powell's self-titled cd, now his tenth overall, gave us pause to reflect upon and review some of the many highlights in a fabulous career. It's now our pleasure to share those with you. We pick up the story with the aforementioned Sade's Song followed by the title track from Laid Back, then in order, Raindrops, Cruisin', and another title track, this time from 97th and Columbus. Finally, there's Push and Me, Myself & Rio to cap off a great seven-track set featuring the one and only Doctor in Smooth Jazz, Doc Powell!

Site: Doc Powell

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