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This Week at CaféJazz.ca

March 11th, 2007
Edition #437 Previously Next

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This Week at CafeJazz.ca!
… it's Peter White in the spotlight; we've selected some favorite tracks from his latest called Playin' Favorites and that's part of the showcase feature. The second hour brings more excitement and another Back Trax feature, this time that includes Jonathan Butler, the hip & funky group known as Bona Fide, as well as keyboardist Jonathan Cain. Jeff Jarvis is on the show, while the T.D.F. project with Eric Clapton rounds out the segment. Then following later in the hour, we're featuring some the brightest in current music with Gregg Karukas, Boney James, Nils, Patti Austin, and Walter Beasley. Meanwhile it all begins with Joyce Cooling. So let me show you the way - the music is just starting and your table is waiting right here at The Café!

New Affiliate - The Source!
Joining our network of affiliates is The Source. Based in Portland Oregon, The Source brings you the “Best Smooth Jazz on the Internet”!  
In This Issue:

Playin' Favorites - Peter White

Song For Elizabeth - Jonathan Butler
X Ray Hip - Bona Fide
Angelica - T.D.F.
Millennium Dance - Jeff Jarvis
Elegance on the Catwalk
Jonathan Cain

Then & Now - Spyro Gyra

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Showcase CD
Playin' Favorites - Peter White:

For many years now, White's penchant for exploring music from his adolescence has led lucky listeners familiar with the music of that era on a journey of rediscovery. On record, White's inimitable interpretations began with What's Going On, the quintessential Marvin Gaye classic that he covered on the 1993 Promenade cd. The following year saw the issue of the aptly named Reflections release with a full album's worth of similar material and one of White's most popular projects to date. Although he's continued to record in that vein, with a treasure from the past here and there, it was well over a dozen years after those initial sessions, that White happened across a few outtakes and in so doing stumbled upon almost a complete album's worth of material. Whipping back into the studio and enlisting the aid of top producer Paul Brown, Peter finished recordings Playin' Favorites.
Richard Elliot and Rick Braun, a couple of long-time friends, contribute to the project. Meanwhile another old friendship was renewed. Making a guest appearance on What Does It Take is saxman Sam Riney, whom White had not seen since the Reflections cd 12 years earlier!
Photo courtesy of PeterWhite.com
We have that track, as one of three exceptionally tasty selections we've specially chosen as part and parcel of the showcase feature. The oft-recorded For the Love of You written by The Isley Brothers launches our feature. Paul Brown adds guitar work to his production duties on this track. Rick Braun co-stars on White's beautiful take on the Hall & Oates hit One on One and that opens hour 2. Finally, Peter's cover of What Does It Take, the old Junior Walker hit from 1969, occupied the #1 spot for several weeks this past year and we've reserved that for the closer. Needless to say, whenever we feature Peter White or one of his tracks, we are invariably "playin' favorites"!

CD: Playin' Favorites
Label: Sony
Site: Peter White

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Back Trax: Part One
Song For Elizabeth - Jonathan Butler:
Born the youngest of twelve children in Cape Town, South Africa, as a 13-year-old, Butler made history, when his debut single became the first record by a black artist ever to be played on white radio. He's gone on to become one of the biggest stars in Smooth Jazz with over a dozen releases to his credits. On this occasion, we're revisiting the album Do You Love Me for one of his most popular selections, Song for Elizabeth, with Dave Grusin guesting on the Fender Rhodes and a track Butler wrote in honour of his mother!

CD: Do You Love Me? (1997)
Label: N2K Encoded Music
Site: Jonathan Butler
X Ray Hip - Bona Fide:
Back in the late 90s, band founder Tim "Slim Man" Camponeschi contacted a few friends in the Baltimore area and laid out a concept that was a radical departure from the normal fair in the Smooth Jazz genre. The debut release as Bona Fide delivered a grittier brand of music with a much funkier edge - in recognition of their cutting-edge contribution, Slim and the boys were named the top new group for 2001. In heading back to that release, we could have chosen High Street, the single that broke the sound of the band, while previously we've featured the heavy and club ready sounds of the title track. This time we've opted for what was their second single, the assertive phrasing of X Ray Hip!

CD: Royal Function (1999)
Label: N-Coded Music
Site: Slim Man

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Back Trax: Part Two
Angelica - T.D.F.:
TDF (standing for Totally Dysfunctional Family) was a one-off project, fronted by British keyboardist/producer Simon Climie and a mysterious collaborator identified only as x-sample. This turned out to be none other than guitar legend Eric Clapton - this was not Clapton's first time performing under an alias as some of his defining moments as an artist came thru his work with Derek and the Dominos. The TDF album began as an instrumental sound bed commissioned by fashion designer Giorgio Armani to accompany a showing in Milan. Upon its completion, it proved a highly eclectic mix, blending elements of rock, techno, and world music. Although he rarely delved into the more experimental aspects of music, recording under the pseudonym seems to have buoyed Clapton, giving him free range to explore different techniques. The album was quite a departure from Clapton's traditional blues-based approach and significantly different from anything else he attempted either prior, or subsequent to, its release. Despite being a critical and commercial flop, Clapton's incredible talents prevail on the acoustic track Angelica - quite simply gorgeous!

CD: Retail Therapy (1997)
Label: Reprise Records
Site: S.Climie ; E.Clapton
Millennium Dance - Jeff Jarvis:
Jeff Jarvis has enjoyed a distinguished and multi-faceted career as a musician and educator. After a background in classical music, Jarvis won a scholarship to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he performed for President Richard Nixon & other dignitaries. As a studio trumpeter, Jarvis played in centers like Nashville and Los Angeles, and took part in recording over 100 albums. His resume is laden with major names - Lou Rawls, Michael Jackson, and Melissa Manchester appear on that list. On the live circuit, Jarvis backed many of the top players in straight-ahead jazz including Dizzy Gillespie, Louie Bellson, Joe Williams, and Doc Severinsen. He's co-authored a couple of handbooks on teaching jazz and presently, he is the Director of Jazz Studies at California State University Long Beach, where he also serves as an Assistant Professor.

In addition, Jarvis' solo efforts have won critical acclaim. After a pair of contemporary releases separated by many years, Jarvis released a pair of projects on Positive Music Records in the mid 90s - both reached the Gavin top ten. His 6th and most recent effort as a leader was produced by Brian Culbertson and featured the talents of Brian Bromberg, Lenny Castro, and Paul Jackson, Jr. Titled Morning Drive, the album was released in the year 2000, and from it we have the aptly named Millennium Dance, with Steve Cole guesting on sax!

CD: Morning Drive (2000)
Label: Amherst Records
Site: Jeff Jarvis
Elegance on the Catwalk - Jonathan Cain:
Although he started as a solo performer in his native Chicago, from the late 70s thru until the early 90s, Cain fashioned a highly successful career as a member of several rock & pop groups. It was about 1979 when Cain joined the British band The Babys. A couple later, that was followed by a 5-year stint with Journey, which spanned their most popular period. Then finally, he united with a couple of members from each of his former bands to form Bad English. Along the way, each group enjoyed chart-topping success. Although Cain continues to perform with Journey on reunion tours, a few years back, he set up his own recording studio and resumed his solo career with the release of Back to Innocence in 1995. From that effort we present one of his finest tracks!

CD: Piano With A View (1995)
Label: Higher Octave Music
Site: Jonathan Cain

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :
This week, Part 1 of an extended two-part Then & Now feature spotlighting the music of Spyro Gyra and our most ambitious presentation to date!
Then & Now Spotlight Artist:
Spyro Gyra - Part 1 (1978-1989)

Spyro Gyra
Amherst Records
Morning Dance
Amherst Records
Catching the Sun
Amherst Records
Amherst Records
Amherst Records
Amherst Records
City Kids
Amherst Records
Access All Areas
Alternating Currents
Amherst Records
Stories Without Words
Rites of Summer

Point of View


Spyro Gyra: Founded in about 1975, Spyro Gyra originally emerged on the club scene in Buffalo NY. Anchored by Jay Beckenstein and his longtime friend, keyboardist Jeremy Wall, the band didn't have a fixed line up but rather featured a revolving set of musicians. They began to cultivate a following and appeared regularly at many of that city's finer venues. On one occasion, a club owner asked for the band name so he could advertise the group. Beckenstein jokingly offered 'Spirogyra,' a term he recalled from a college biology course, which related to a type of green algae commonly referred to as pond scum.

Photo Courtesy of
Being unfamiliar with the term, the impresario spelled it the best he could - he wasn't far off, billing the band as Spyro Gyra, and in so doing he inadvertently named the group. Shortly afterward, all the pieces fell into place quite nicely as in addition to Beckenstein and Wall, the band membership grew to include Chet Catallo on electric guitar, bassist David Wolford, Eli Konikoff on drums, and percussionist Gerardo Velez with keyboardist Tom Schuman joining in time for the release of the Spyro Gyra self-titled debut. The band funded the album through a lease agreement on a 16-track studio while working other jobs and selling studio time to help pay the expenses. Released on Amherst Records, a local independent label, the project was promoted thru the group's rigorous performance schedule, ensuring its success in and around the Buffalo area. Subsequently the rights were sold to a division of MCA records enabling the album's broader availability. The year 1979, saw the release of Morning Dance - the title track went Top 40 while the album became a certified platinum-seller. In the aftermath of the record's success, Wall retired from live performances although he continued to contribute to the band's studio projects as an assistant-producer and composer.

This left Tom Schuman in charge of the keys at concerts while also assuming a greater roll in the studio. Vibe/marimba player Dave Samuels proved a major factor in the band's popularity - frequently contributing to their albums, Samuels accepted full membership in the band in 1983 thru until 1993. Although band personnel fluctuated, it was Beckenstein and this combination of players that guided the fortunes of Spyro Gyra thru the 80s. As Jay and the band take center stage, we're zeroing in on a 26-track feature - 13 this week and 13 more next week. Our initial focus encompasses 1978 to 1989, beginning with Shaker Song; Morning Dance & Catching the Sun round out the opening set. Set 2 includes, Café Amore, Summer Strut, and Old San Juan. City Kids kicks off the 3rd set, with Latin Streets and Sunflurry. While Freefall, Cayo Hueso, Limelight, & Counterpoint take us halfway home. All tracks are taken sequentially from the albums as listed above. Next week, the story resumes with Part 2 and Fast Forward from 1990.

Site: Spyro Gyra

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