January 4th, 2009
Edition #508 Previously Next
Week @ Cafe Jazz.ca:
2008 Café Jazz Faves plus Best of Review - Pt.1:
Our fifth & most extensive year-end recap of favourites! And, with the start of a new year, it's time to reflect on the music of 2008 with our 9th annual best of series of specials. On this edition it's part one featuring Steve Oliver, Ken Navarro, and Michael Lington as well as a track from our #1 album for the entire year that being from Les Sabler. But intrinsic to our mission we play selections by artists such as Ronnie McNeir, Kevin Kooyumjian, and a few others that you may hear only here and nowhere else! Just let me put it this way, if it was great in '08, you're likely to hear it as part of this series!
|Highlights Hour One
Headin' Home - Mike Levine:
With a career stretching back to the early 80s, Mike Levine has gigged with Michael Bolton, the Jaco Pastorius Big Band, and saxophonist Ed Calle while touring Mexico, Costa Rica, The DR and beyond. He's programmed for numerous artists while, additionally, his compositions have been used on Star Search and by major advertisers. A few years back, 2006 to be precise, Levine took a break from his busy schedule to record his own smooth jazz debut - however, the album entitled From The Heart really didn't enter any sort of promotional phase until just this past year. Combining R&B, Smooth styles and Latin Jazz rhythms with a unique Floridian flare, the project delivered some of the brightest musical moments for the year on our own humble show. Propelled by several tracks, two of which made our own in-house nifty-50 list, Levine eased in at #18 in our top 20 artists for the year while the album catapulted to the #10 slot! From that heartfelt release, we've selected Mike and one of his finest - Headin Home with another Mike, that being Mike Scaglioni (formerly of Miami Sound Machine), contributing some tasty sax licks to the track!
CD: From The Heart (2006)
Label: Independent/Rhombus Records
Site: Mike Levine ; Levine/Rhombus
Tequila Moon - Jessy J:
When showcased in May of '08 , we hinted at the fact that USC's 2001 Most Outstanding Jazz Student graduate was "an early favourite as the break-thru artist for 2008"! In truth, we were nearly dead on as Ms J reached the #2 spot on our in-house list for the year, narrowly missing the coveted #1 slot. Nonetheless, "combining jazz sensibilities & pop melodies with warmth, taste, and charm, the intoxicating Tequila Moon" remains a year-end highlight having comfortably nestled in as 2008's #5 album!
CD: Tequila Moon (2008)
Label: Peak Records
Site: Jessy J
Drive - Les Sabler:
When we first latched onto our personal advance copy of Sweet Drive, Les Sabler's 2007 4th release, we knew we were in possession of a rare commodity. Indeed, time has only served to firm this belief. The project reached a very respectable #6 on our 2007 list of faves while Sabler picked up a pair of CSJA nominations! However, it's only now, over a full year after the fact that the project's true greatness has been suitably recognized with the former Montrealer and his 'sweet release' perched rather loftily at the top of several year-end categories. It was #1's right across the board for Mr. Sabler and his cd as artist and album of the year; a feat that was duplicated on the 'Canadian' front. Additionally, no less than 3 selections placed on our prestigious "top 50/honourable mention" list! When all is said and done, this drive has been sweet indeed!
CD: Sweet Drive* (2007)
Label: The Music Force
Site: Les Sabler
|Highlights Hour Two|
Lost in the Moment - Jim Adkins:
Many years ago when I first started Café Jazz, a veteran of the music wars shared with me his biggest disappointment in music in that when commerce and creativity met, it was inevitably creativity that came out second best. Therefore, it isn't surprising that seasoned performers such as Virginia's Jim Adkins aren't better known on a grander stage. That's exactly where we come in - with a genuine love for originality, our attempt has always been to make musical ingenuity our mantra. In keeping with which, we were pleased to showcase City Streets back in late August of '08. At that time, we rightly predicted that the album's lead single in Lost in the Moment was destined to be among our in-house favourites for the year. It's now a pleasure to deliver our #10 most played track!
CD: City Streets (2008)
Label: Clear Image Records
Site: Jim Adkins
Jamaican Wind - Jaared:
Perhaps one of the more under-rated releases for the year comes the cd Addiction from saxman Jaared Arosemena. With a style influenced by Sanborn and other greats of the day, Jaared's debut earned him consideration as the 2002 Best New Artist of the Year when the USA was still doling out those types of awards. Addiction is now his third and most focused effort - from that project, we've featured several selections, none finer than Jaared's cover of the '91 Earl Klugh classic, Jamaican Winds, with Steve Oliver guesting!
CD: Addiction (2008)
Label: Trippin 'n' Rhythm Records
On The Upside - Steve Oliver:
While already with six top 30 singles and five highly popular albums to his credit, the release of One Night Live may nevertheless well have made the past year a banner one for Steve Oliver. A few years back, we quite rightly observed that "Oliver's combination of talent and energy is indeed a rare commodity in music". Now as if to add fuel to that creative fire, in 2008 Steve delivered One Night Live, his deluxe cd/dvd that captured all the magic of the gifted Mr. Oliver in performance! With a marketing subtitle as The Greatest Hits of Steve Oliver Live, the project presented vintage Steve Oliver selections, while additionally containing On The Upside, one of two new studio tracks. Now here I must confess one the most howling errors in potentially underplaying a spectacular track that we've ever made. Nonetheless, big shout outs to Steve on this masterful gem!
CD: One Night Live (2008)
Label: SOM Entertainment/NuGroove
Sites: Steve Oliver ; Oliver/NuGroove
|After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site and Select Affiliates:|
|... as we continue the first installment in our comprehensive review, the best of 2008, we'll be hearing names such as Carlton, Butler, and Darius - additionally we're featuring a few that are less familiar. Our opening set includes Vadim Brunell, bassman Al Turner, Sweden's Jonathan Fritzen, and saxman J Plunky Branch. Set 2 begins with Winnipeg's Walle Larsson and Fjord 7, that's followed by Gary Carpenter and Tribal Heat out of Santa Cruz California, Funkee Boy is in there while Larry Carleton winds it down. Finally we have Jonathan Butler, Evan Knight, the 25th Street Band out of the UK, Novello, and in the clean up spot Eric Darius with the track that's been the biggest to this point in his career!|