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This Week at Café

March 1st, 2009
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This Week at ...
... it's Tom Grant in the spotlight with Life is Good; we've cued a terrific trio of tracks as part of that segment. Then when hour 2 rolls by it'll be time for Back Trax, as we take another trip down memory lane - highlights on this edition are from Steely Dan and Dan Siegel's Birds of a Feather - also appearing are Soft Sugar, Rachel Z, and the combination of Reggie Worthy & D-Phunk out of Germany. Then a bit later, we have Nate Harasim and BK Jackson, as well as Chris Standring and Wayman Tisdale; while featured thru-out are the likes of Rick Braun, The Sax Pack, Terry Disley, Jessy J, Special EFX, Bob Baldwin, Nestor Torres, Vince Mai, and Down to the Bone!
In This Issue:

Life Is Good - Tom Grant

Cruisin' Downtown - Soft Sugar
The Time Is Right - Birds Of A Feather
Like The River Flows - Rachel Z
Pretzel Logic - Steely Dan
dabadab - Reggie Worthy & D-Phunk

SPINLIST: Spinlist

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Showcase CD
Life Is Good - Tom Grant:

Born to show-biz parents, Tom Grant was only four when he began playing piano and drums. Later he would learn about different music styles while hanging out in his Dad's record store as well as from his brother Mike, an avant-garde jazz pianist. In 1970, he went to New York as a member of Jim Pepper's Pow Wow band but after earning a Masters in Education back in his hometown of Portland Oregon, Grant was teaching high school social studies when Woody Shaw caught him at an after-hours gig. Shaw offered Grant a job on the spot and this led to appearances with Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon, and others. With a background in straight-ahead jazz, Grant issued his solo debut in 1976 - but with an '83 effort, he made a conscious shift to a more contemporary style. With that and subsequent releases he became one of the trendsetters in the early days of the 'smooth movement' with several of his projects enjoying lengthy stays at or near the top of the charts. On a personal note, I became totally hooked back in '93, around the time of Grant's The View From Here - in fact, Hang Time remains an all time favourite! However, I digress!

Tom Grant - Life Is Good
In spite of an international following and an avid worldwide fan base, Grant continues to be based in Portland. Many of his compositions have been used for TV and film, while locally he is well known for his numerous appearances at charity events! In addition, for several years Tom branched out as a Sunday radio show host while in 2001, he launched his own label in Nu-Wrinkle Records. Now after a few varied projects and with over 35 years of experience as a performer, Grant returns to the contemporary scene with his 23rd release, while displaying a total command of the genre he helped pioneer! Entitled Life Is Good, the project and the music contained therein well reflect Grant's optimistic outlook on music and life and it's therefore with distinct pleasure that we now present Mr. TG and Life Is Good as the focus for our spotlight feature. Although we could easily have selected a handful of tracks, we've restricted ourselves to only three - beginning with the leisurely sounds of Easy Landing!
Tom Grant photo courtesy of Tom's FacebookTom Grant photo courtesy of Tom's Facebook
Then at the top of our second hour comes a track that quite simply I just can't get enough of. Called Morning Glorious, it's not only exquisite it's likely one of the prettiest selections we've ever had the pleasure to play on our show. You'll savour every moment of this one! While in the end, we take it up a notch with the funky quasi-techno groove of Step Up. From start to finish, Tom Grant's Life Is Good is not only good, it's exceptional!

CD: Life Is Good (2008)
Label: Nu-Wrinkle Records
Site: Tom Grant

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Back Trax: Part One
Soft Sugar  - Welcome to the Jazz Café
Cruisin' Downtown - Soft Sugar:
As part of the London scene, Soft Sugar Productions was an outlet, which gave rise to a variety of projects. In the early to mid 90s, Soft Sugar issued a series of Fluid Vibes EPs, a few singles, and an album - the concept proving a progenitor to Paprika Soul, which debuted in 2001. Relying on the talents of multi-instrumentalist Andy Spiller, the sax work of Poli Cousée, and the production expertise of Alan Barnes, several of their tracks appeared on a variety of compilations. On this occasion, from the '98 Welcome to the Jazz Café we're checking out Soft Sugar and the smooth and sweet sounds of Cruisin' Downtown!

CD: Welcome to the Jazz Café (1998)
Label: Instinct Records
Birds Of A Feather - Birds Of A Feather
The Time Is Right - Birds Of A Feather feat. Larry Carlton:
In addition to the 18 albums under his own name, Dan Siegel was the creative force behind a rotating all-star collective that issued three projects from the late 80s thru until 2004 as Birds of a Feather. The first of the Birds releases, recorded in 1987 and re-released in '94, featured an assembly of top-flight musicians!
Included were Larry Carlton, Richard Elliot, and Alex Acuna as well many others among them Ernie Watts, Dan Huff, and John Robinson. From that effort, we've selected The Time is Right featuring Larry Carlton! Best of Birds of a Feather Special Mention on Ed#335 - October 10th/2004

CD: Birds Of A Feather (1994)
Label: BrainChild Record
Site: Dan Siegel
Birds of a Feather - 1987Birds of a Feather
Optimism / 1987

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Back Trax: Part Two
Rachel Z - Love Is The Power
Like The River Flows - Rachel Z :
She's played with Najee, Al Di Meola, and Stan Clarke; done five world tours as a member of Peter Gabriel's band and played on a Wayne Shorter Grammy-winning cd! Earning a 'Distinction in Performance' award upon graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music, New York native Rachel Nicolazzo (Rachel Z) worked the Boston area before returning to New York and connecting with fellow NEC alumnus Najee, touring and recording with him. In the period from '88 thru until '96, she performed with the fusion band Steps Ahead while working with the likes of Di Meola, Coryell, and Special EFX. In the process of collaborating with Shorter, Ms Z released her own debut in '96 managing a superb follow-up effort a couple of years later. From that project, which boasted a line-up including Chris Botti, David Mann, and Najee we have Like The River Flows featuring the intriguing guitar of Marc Antoine!

CD: Love Is The Power (1998)
Label: GRP Records
Site: Rachel Z
Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic
Pretzel Logic - Steely Dan :
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen met at a New York college in 1967 - they played in a few bands and began composing with the hope of becoming professional songwriters. In 1970, using pseudonyms they joined the back-up band for Jay & the Americans and with a few varied experiences in the interim, they were hired after meeting producer Gary Katz. Upon Katz's suggestion, they recruited a few musicians and formed Steely Dan as a way to record their songs. Can't Buy a Thrill released in '72 was their debut, which met with both commercial and critical success but a poorly rehearsed tour was a flop. Although the Countdown to Ecstasy follow-up was again lauded by critics, the project failed to produce any hit single. Nevertheless, Dan's course in music had been set - they re-organized some of their personnel and released Pretzel Logic in 1974. Ricky Don't Lose That Number was a smash pop hit but provided only a hint of the level of complexity and the degree of sophistication that Becker and Fagen infused into their craft. Characterized by jazz-flavoured structures and harmonies, the music blended influences from several idioms and proved a high water mark for the era!

CD: Pretzel Logic (1974)
Label: MCA Records
Site: Steely Dan
Reggie Worthy & D-Phunk - Tell The World
dabadab - Reggie Worthy & D-Phunk:
Bassist Reggie Worthy began playing professionally in his teens in Plainfield, New Jersey and is now in the midst of a career spanning nearly four decades. Upon completing high school, Worthy relocated to LA, whereupon he joined the Ike & Tina Turner Soul Revue. During his years in LA, Worthy would often find himself flying over to Germany to take part in a variety of production gigs and in 1980, he made the move permanent. In the time since, he's played on a variety of projects with groups such as US 5, and N´Sync while occasionally taking time out to record on his own.

The year 2002 saw Worthy connect with pianist and keyboardist Jan-Heie Erchinger and his brother Dirk. JH had made a name for himself in the early to mid 90s as Jay Heye, one-half of the band Blue Knights, before teaming with his brother in '97 to form the "Deutschland-Phunk" or "D-Phunk" label and production house. The project was a one-off effort with which Worthy was ready to 'tell the world' what was up with his music in Germany! And although it was never made clear what the track title 'dabadab" meant, what was readily apparent was the 6-and-a-half minutes of free-wheelin' fun that the tune presented!

CD: Tell The World (2002)
Label: D-Phunk Music
Site: RWorthy ; JHErchinger ; DErchinger

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
New Music ... the focus shifts to fresh listening with 13 selections totally new to the show. Here's a quick run-down of today's line-up - which includes a pair of tracks from Pete Gitlin and those are followed by Russ Kunkel and Darren Rahn. Out of France, guitarist Daniel Domenge kicks off set #2 while also appearing are Jeff Kashiwa and The Rippingtons each with the lead single from their new releases. Saxlady Paula Atherton is on the show, as well, there's another track from Chris Geith and Timeless World. Then in our final set, we've cued Chris Grunder and John Carrozza - David Wells will be in there with the latest single from his Friday Afternoon release and finally there's a tune from Freddie Fox and Feelin' It - and that'll be today's closing selection. But to begin, as mentioned we have a pair of selections from Pete Gitlin - we profiled Pete and his Full Circle and The Great Temptation a few weeks back - now we have the tracks that gave their name to the album. First up is Full Circle and that's followed by The Great Temptation!

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