January 28th, 2007
Edition #432 Previously Next
Shine - Boney James:
Born in Massachusetts and raised in New Rochelle, N.Y., James Oppenheim started in music at the age of eight playing clarinet. At the urging of his music teacher and after seeing a local school stage band, he switched to the sax by age ten and fell in love with its sound. Having been exposed to the jazz of Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans through his father's record collection Oppenheim now encountered the sounds of Grover Washington Jr. in his school music program and thereby made the connection between jazz and R&B. In his late teens, his family relocated to Los Angeles and Oppenheim joined a promising band; however, after a record deal fell through, he headed off to UC Berkeley, intent on studying law. A trip to L.A. to visit his parents proved pivotal. Sitting in on a gig with Line One, a local fusion band, Oppenheim transferred to UCLA so he could continue playing with the group. Throwing himself completely into music, he delivered pizzas by day while he jammed by night. Despite a few prestigious opening spots, and even an appearance on Star Search, the band eventually dissolved.
|Shortly thereafter, James won a spot backing Morris Day while subsequently he backed The Isley Brothers, Randy Crawford, Sheena Easton, Ray Parker, Jr., and Bobby Caldwell. Nevertheless, in spite of his steady playing, there was still difficulty in making ends meet, so Oppenheim would sometimes skip meals, saving his per diem to help pay the rent. It was while he was touring with Crawford that a band mate observed his dwindling physique and notoriously commented, "At this rate we'll have to start calling you Boney James!" Ultimately, it was the diminishing challenges of sideman work that pushed Boney in a new direction, so that when the opportunity arose to make a solo disc with the indie label Spindletop, he went for it.|
Photo Courtesy of
and recorded by Paul Brown, the album Trust released in 1992, yielded
several top tracks that continue to garner radio play and led to a deal
with Warner Bros. With four gold records to his credit, and recognized
as one of the most popular artists in the genre, the nickname has nevertheless
stuck. The latest album entitled Shine now becomes Boney's eight album
- tenth overall if you consider his seasonal release and the collaboration
recorded with Rick Braun a few years back - and as well it's the focus
for today's feature! As usual, we're presenting choice selections, beginning
with Let It Go. That's Rex Rideout on piano and keys. George Benson guests
on Hypnotic, the latest single to radio, while putting just the right
finishing touch on the feature is The Way She Walks, with Christian Scott
on trumpet on the track!
Label: Concord Music Group
Site: Boney James
|Back Trax: Part One|
Smooth - Double Scale:
Double Scale was a one-off project spearheaded by Doc Powell and released in the latter part of the 90s. Powell had already established himself as one of the genre's more popular guitarists when rather than fronting another solo album he set his sights with a slightly different focus. The endeavour flaunted several high profile players with Everette Harp, Bobby Lyle, Chuck Mangione, & Tom Scott among others, contributing. Now the story goes that instead of paying this supporting cast normal scale wages for their session work, because of their stature as musicians Powell was obliged to pay double scale if you will, hence the project name. From that effort we've selected one of the album's most savoury moments, a fluid piece called Smooth featuring Oscar Brashear on flügelhorn!
CD: Double Scale (1999)
Label: Windham Hill Jazz
Site: Doc Powell
(Another True Story) - Sugar & Silk:
We have a fabulous piece from the British duo Danny Sugar and Oliver Silk, Silk being the same Oli Silk who we felt had one of the finer releases in 2006 with his So Many Ways debut. In fact, Silk had arrived on the smooth scene a few years earlier, having connected with bassist Danny Sugar, at college in 1996. The tandem found a common interest in Jazz joining a six-piece fusion band and soon after, a twelve-member soul group. Neither afforded the pair the opportunity to express their compositional ideas, and so they chose to record on their own as what else but Sugar & Silk, releasing their Fact or Friction debut in the year 2000 with Duality following a couple of years later. From that sophomore effort we have ATS, ATS in this case standing for Another True Story. Now with a name like Sugar & Silk, you're probably expecting a project that's sweet and smooth; and in that respect, this track perfectly fills the bill!
CD: Duality (2002)
Label: Passion Jazz
|Back Trax: Part Two|
||Orchid - Phil Sheeran:
As a graduate of the Cornish Institute of the Arts in Seattle, Sheeran majored in Jazz composition and performance. Meanwhile, he cultivated a love for Brazilian rhythms during a six-month sojourn to that country, when he studied and befriended the noted Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo. Then beginning with his 1990 debut and extending thru a good portion of the decade, Sheeran presented an easy and accessible acoustic blend, his best efforts rivalling many of the most popular sounds in the genre. His 1991 sophomore album reached #4 on the NAC charts, while in both years, Sheeran earned nominations for Best Jazz Artist, Best Jazz Recording & Best Electric Guitarist. Expanding his musical perspectives on 1995's It's a Good Thing; Sheeran chose new inspirational points of view for the 1998 Orchid release, arguably delivering his most accomplished work. Having contributed to each of Sheeran's previous efforts, both Gregg Karukas and Eric Marienthal were once again "back in the fold". From that release, we've selected the exceptional smooth bluesy groove of the title track!
CD: Orchid (1998)
Label: Passage Records
Site: Phil Sheeran
||The Space - Andrew Glover:
A graduate of Grant MacEwan Community College, Andrew Glover's career highlights stretch back to the 80s having performed with flute legend Moe Kaufman while appearing as a sideman for Bobby Curtola on a Las Vegas gig. For the better part of ten years, the Edmonton Alberta native toured Western Canada with Big Miller Band, later finding time to join Alfie Zappacosta for several of his tours. In addition to being active on the local jazz scene, Glover has appeared as featured soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra while working with Jack Semple, Scott Hamilton, and Sheena Easton. In addition, his compositions have been performed or recorded by John Abercrombie, Jean-Pierre Zanella, and Alfie Zappacosta to name but a few. And although Glover made his record debut in 1997 as a member of Pazzport, Forward Motion was solo debut. From that highly promising effort we're featuring The Space, a track so named for reasons that become rather obvious once you hear the piece!
CD: Forward Motion (2005)
Site: Andrew Glover
'n' Zouc - Jean-Luc Ponty:
The undisputed master of the electric violin, Jean-Luc Ponty was born in France in 1942 - his father was a violin teacher while his mother taught piano. At sixteen, Ponty was admitted to the Paris Conservatory. Graduating two years later with their highest award, he immediately joined a major symphony orchestra, playing there for three years. After learning clarinet, a growing interest in jazz led Ponty to take up the tenor sax, in turn compelling him to express this passion for jazz thru his primary instrument. Ponty's notoriety grew and by 1964, at age 22, he released his solo debut.
After appearances in Basel, Switzerland in 1966 and at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1967, Frank Zappa composed the music for Jean-Luc's 1969 King Kong. At the urging of Zappa - who wanted him to join the Mothers of Invention on tour - Ponty immigrated to Los Angeles with his family in about 1972. He continued to work on a variety of projects - including a pair of albums and tours with John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Then in 1975, he signed as a solo artist with Atlantic Records. In the next decade, Ponty recorded a dozen albums with all 12 reaching the top five on the Billboard jazz charts. Understandably, there was a huge demand for live performances - he toured the world several times over - while becoming firmly established as one of the foremost figureheads of fusion. Ever the innovator, Ponty for the first time combined his acoustic and electric violins with the powerful rhythms of West Africa on 1991's Tchokola. The ten tracks recorded in Paris and mixed in Los Angeles, featured singers and instrumentalists from Senegal, Cameroon, and Guinea. From that effort, we've selected one of our all time favourites, Rhum 'n' Zouc; the 'zouc' being a blend of French Caribbean and African influences!
CD: Tchokola (1991)
Label: Sony Music
Site: JL Ponty
|After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :|
|Something a bit different on this edition as we feature the music of Joyce Cooling, past & present as part of a two-hour extended After Hours feature; Cooling steps into our Then and Now spotlight for a 6-track set, one from each of her releases. Then once we're done that, well we do it all over again, presenting a second 6-track set for a total of 12 songs from Ms Cooling and Jay Wagner, her musical partner, and we'll be getting to that about 30 minutes into hour one. In the meantime, we're delving more deeply into releases from Wayne Jones, Steve Cole, and William Woods and to that we've added the latest singles from Matt Marshak and Greg Adams. There's more new music with Walter Beasley, Paul Brown, and Chuck Loeb while brand new to the show are the group 813, organist Mel Davis, guitarist Dee Brown, and Rodney Lee, longtime Chris Standring collaborator. And as if that wasn't enough, we have a tune by Najee from the second tribute album to Luther Vandross, as well as track from trumpeter David Longoria. Look for those in hour 2. In all we're coming in with 15 new-and-never-before-been-played-on-our-show tracks, and about 120 minutes of virtually uninterrupted music in two parts. So once you're done listening to part 1, be sure to click on the second paw for part 2 & second full hour of After Hours!|
Then & Now Spotlight Feature: Joyce Cooling
Joyce Cooling: While growing up, Cooling was exposed to music in a wide variety of forms and developed tastes that ranged from diverse to eclectic. The New Jersey - New York native inherited a large number of Jazz albums, which served to spur her love of the genre. Meanwhile, the clubs of Manhattan fuelled her passion, since although Cooling was underage, some of the club owners and bartenders allowed her to hang outside, and sometimes even backstage, so she could listen to the shows. In so doing, she heard everyone from Bill Evans and Jim Hall to Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson. After moving to San Francisco, Cooling began dabbling with keyboards and percussion. Although music had long been the most passionate part of her life, a career seemed a remote possibility. However, while visiting a friend on the UC Berkeley campus, Joyce overheard some music from an African drum class "wafting out of an open classroom window". Quite literally mesmerized, she spent an entire hour in the hallway outside the room just listening.
In 1996, South of Market broke the easy and breezy style of the San Francisco based duo. That track and Playing It Cool, the album that spawned the hit, both soared to #1 while Joyce was named the best new Smooth jazz artist for the year. Nevertheless, this belies the fact that Cooling and Wagner had for nearly a decade been known as the one of the most dynamic acts in The City by The Bay and that their official debut predates Playing it Cool by almost another ten full years. Now if you've listened to our show over the years, you may be aware Joyce Cooling has long been one of our favourites here at The Café, her name being synonymous with smooth jazz royalty, if there is such a thing, in so far as we're concerned. It's therefore with the utmost pleasure that Ms Cooling become the focus for an extended Then & Now feature. We zip back to Cameo, that 1988 debut, for the opening track in the set. In order, the selections are The Way Out, South of Market, Before Dawn, Tamba, Expression, and Revolving Door, a track from each of Joyce's six albums. Then, we do it all over again as we revisit each album for our second set. This time it's Voo Doo Chicken, After Hours, Callie, It's All Because of Loving You, Camelback, and At The Modern - two 6-track sets, twelve selections in all and nearly an hour of virtually uninterrupted music from Joyce Cooling, the epitome of class, style, and talent!
Site: Joyce Cooling