June 3rd, 2007
Edition #445 Previously Next
Sweet Surrender - Chieli Minucci & Special EFX:
Chieli Minucci began classical piano at the age of five, but switched to the guitar when he was eight. A native New Yorker, Minucci attended Ithaca College, where he developed his unique approach to playing and where he became exposed to jazz. After college, Minucci returned to NYC and thru a variety of gigs he met up with drummer & percussionist George Jinda. The two hit if off and in the course of events, they recorded 13 albums as Special EFX before creative differences led to an amicable parting of the ways - their final project being Body Language in 1995. Jinda recorded one additional Special EFX project the following year before suffering a debilitating stroke from which he never recovered. Sadly, he remained bedridden until his passing in 2001. Meanwhile, Minucci pressed ahead full bore with his career, cutting a broad creative swath as an Emmy award winner, a producer, a guest musician, and a solo performer.
|Then in 1999, Minucci also resurrected the Special EFX banner with the release of Masterpiece while dedicating the project to his long-time friend and former partner. Sweet Surrender is now the fourth and latest effort in that string and 18th Special EFX release overall to go along with one best of from 1987 that chronicles the early years of the band! However, this latest instalment from one of the seminal groups in the smooth jazz format includes several longtime core members - among them David Mann on sax and flute, drummer Lionel Cordew, Philip Hamilton on vocals & percussion, Jay Rowe on keyboards & piano, as well as bassist Jerry Brooks. The concept for the project was to capture the vibe of a live concert in a studio setting and to represent the eclectic mix explored over the last 20+ years.|
Finally, we conclude the spotlight presentation with what was Minucci's final contribution to the cd but ended up being the album's lead single. For Mystical, Minucci revisited Modern Manners, the second Special EFX release from 1985 for a complete redo of Mystical Remedies. The result is a highly rhythmic and funky melody that unifies the series of Special EFX releases thereby underscoring the band's relevance in the annals of contemporary instrumental music!
CD: Sweet Surrender
Label: Shanachie Entertainment
Site: Minucci/Special EFX
|Fresh Trax: Part One|
Newbury Street - Don Breithaupt:
For over a decade, Don Breithaupt has been the brain-thrust behind the band Monkey House, a project that began as an outlet for his musical overflow. During that span, there have been three Monkey House albums with the creative front man, writing & arranging the music while also handling vocals and keyboard duties. However, the band represents only one aspect of a multi-dimensional career. The Berklee-educated pianist and arranger has also co-written three Juno-nominated songs, scored a hit animated series, and toured with Sass Jordan. Currently he plays piano for Marc Jordan and recently, working with his brother Jeff, he co-penned the music for Seeing Stars, a full-length musical. Meanwhile, Breithaupt has enjoyed a parallel career as a journalist, having authored three books related to music, along with dozens of reviews and features that have appeared in the National Post. His latest literary effort, a paperback entitled Steely Dan's Aja, was published just a couple of weeks back and contains an extensive interview with Donald Fagen.
With several irons in the fire, and even as the next Monkey House album begins to take shape, Breithaupt simultaneously began work on a dedicated instrumental smooth jazz project. With a working title of Another Time, the cd is tentatively scheduled for the first quarter of '08. Having attended the Berklee College of Music in the mid 80s, Breithaupt named the first single after an artery in downtown Boston, whose beautiful neighbourhood calls to mind many of the progenitors of the smooth jazz movement. From the forthcoming Another Time, we have the advance entitled Newbury Street!
CD: (Radio Single)
Label: Green Dolphin Music
Site: Monkey House
- Acoustic Alchemy:
The latest single by Acoustic Alchemy and the first from their forthcoming This Way release is a song that was written as a special tribute to the memory of Ernest Ranglin, a Jamaican born guitarist well known for his contributions to both reggae and Jazz. However, there is a caveat to this story since, to paraphrase the famous Mark Twain quote, rumours of Ranglin's demise were greatly exaggerated. The tale begins a few years back with Acoustic Alchemy's Miles Gilderdale, who had long been a fan of Ranglin's playing and who coincidentally also hails from Jamaica. A Ranglin performance that Gilderdale was planning to attend was unfortunately cancelled due to Ranglin's ill health. However, what compounded the situation was an obit notice that erroneously ran in an English paper shortly thereafter, marking Ranglin's passing. What Gilderdale missed was the amending statement that was posted the day after.
Out of respect, he & fellow Alchemist Greg Carmichael wrote a selection that somewhat mirrored Ranglin's unique style, which came to be known as Ernie. For about a year before being recorded, Alchemy performed the piece at concerts all over the world with Gilderdale always paying tribute to his "departed" hero whenever it was played. In due course, the truth was discovered - Ernest Ranglin was alive & well - and in what has to rate among the happiest of all possible endings to this saga, Ranglin too was able to hear & enjoy the Acoustic Alchemy track written in his honour!
CD: This Way
Label: Narada Jazz/Blue Note
Site: Acoustic Alchemy
|Fresh Trax: Part Two|
||Ladies' Choice - Paul Taylor:
With the issue of Ladies' Choice, his 4th release on Peak Records and 7th overall (to along with a 2002 Best of), Paul Taylor celebrates a dozen years as one of the most popular entertainer in smooth jazz. Taylor has long believed the key to success is to find the right balance between catchy melodies and stuff that's a bit edgier. His On The Horn debut spawned the #1 radio hit Till We Meet Again while the title track from Pleasure Seeker, besides also reaching #1, proved to be one of the most played tracks in the genre for the year. Upon listening back to the first tune that was recorded for this new collection, its thumping beat reminded Taylor of the disco nights in the 70s and the moment when DJ's would declare the next song to be a Ladies' Choice, their chance to pick who they wanted to dance with. Taylor relates, "Ladies' Choice just hit me as the right title to convey the blend of retro-soul, romantic music and contemporary edges we were going for." From the album, we have the choice advance single & the track that generated the concept for the project!
CD: Ladies' Choice
Label: Peak Records
Site: Paul Taylor
||Hiro Chill - Hiroshima:
Named for a well-known Asian neighbourhood in southern California, Little Tokyo is the most recent release from Hiroshima. The veteran band was founded in east L.A. by Dan and June Kuramoto and since its inception in 1980, the ensemble has attempted to bridge "cultural divides through the power of music." On this latest installment - their 4th on the Heads Up record label and 16th overall - Hiroshima acknowledge the increasing importance of diversity in the fabric of the American psyche and the strength that multi-ethnicity can provide. Buoyed by a vision that "the artist's role has always been rooted in idealism over realism", Hiroshima embrace numerous musical styles while continuing to explore the possibilities of their creativity - the selection Hiro Chill in our estimation rating as one their finest. The English language has long employed references to heat and its absence metaphorically to relate to emotions, with the use of cool meaning to stay calm. Therefore, chill is a novel way of implying that one relax or cool down. Consequently, this selection works on a multitude of levels - from stretching musical boundaries and connecting sounds of the ancient Orient with the shuffle groove of today's downtempo style, to a statement of a musical vision - it's all neatly condensed & succinctly stated in this one single track!
CD: Little Tokyo
Label: Heads Up
- Down To The Bone:
Delivering on a promise made earlier in the year & hot on the heels of the issue of their Best Of project, the release date for the latest from Stuart Wade & DTTB is fast approaching. Entitled Supercharged, the disc is the seventh from Britain's premier jazz-funk ensemble exclusive of their aforementioned compilation. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, a supercharger is an air pump or blower in the intake system of an internal combustion engine - its purpose: to force extra air (and hence more oxygen) into the chambers of an internal combustion engine thereby allowing a substantial boost in power output. Now if that explanation left any doubt as to what this latest DTTB effort was all about, then the album cover should dispel any remaining questions. Sporting the image of a beefed-up hot rod with a massive high performance engine protruding from its hood, this album packs a wallop from beginning to end. And, in what could only be described as a match made in musical heaven, here on the hippest show on radio we are featuring the all-out down & gritty sounds of Hip City from Down To The Bone!
Label: Narada Jazz/Blue Note
|After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :|
|On this edition Dave Koz enters our spotlight - we've gone to each of Koz's solo releases and are offering a six-pack of tracks for your enjoyment as part of our Then & Now feature; that's coming up about a dozen minutes in. Otherwise, something that's become a tradition as new music rules with seven fresh & totally tasty selections to round out the hour. Today's line-up includes Nate Harasim, Jay Soto, Keiko Matsui, and Four80East. There's the latest from Germany's Dephazz and we've also managed to find a track from each of Paul Brown's White Sand and Chuck Loeb's Presence, that surprisingly we've never played before. Those are all coming up in a great action-packed fun-filled hour of music!|
Then & Now Spotlight Artist: Dave Koz
Dave Koz: As a kid growing up LA's San Fernando Valley, Dave Koz played a bit of piano and also tried drums, but at 13, he picked up the sax even though it was primarily a ploy to get into his older brother's band. In what is now a two-decade career, Koz has gone on to become a platinum-selling artist, a radio show host, a four-time Grammy nominee, and a music-business entrepreneur. Koz graduated from UCLA with a degree in mass communications before deciding on a career in music in 1986. Within weeks of that decision, he joined the Bobby Caldwell band while filling the remainder of the 80s with a variety of session gigs. With the release of his self-titled album in 1990, Koz launched his career as lead performer. The album yielded a couple of singles and charted well, but his greatest exposure came from a stint as a regular Thursday night member of The Posse on The Arsenio Hall Show. He also appeared & performed on Family Matters and General Hospital with the latter choosing Faces Of The Heart from his Lucky Man follow-up, as their new theme song - that collection enjoyed a lengthy chart life of over 100 weeks on Billboard spread over three years from 1993 thru to 1995. His gold-certified album The Dance spawned no less than five Top 5 contemporary jazz hits while Saxophonic produced another four top 5 singles.
Even with all these happenings, Dave found a bit of time to record a new release entitled At The Movies, now his sixth to go along with a pair of seasonal projects - consequently, the timing seemed perfect for a Dave Koz Then & Now feature. We begin at the beginning and Dave's 1990 debut. From that self-titled release, we have So Far Away From Home. That's followed by After Dark (both track were co-written by and feature Jeff Lorber), Let Me Count the Ways (with Stevie Nicks), Together Again (Dave's brother Jeff is on this one), Just To Be Next To You (an all time favourite), and It Might Be You (his recent hit upon which Peter White guests)!
Site: Dave Koz