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This Week at Café

April 19th, 2009
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This Week at ...
... Gregg Karukas enters the showcase spotlight with a trio of tracks from the GK release. In part 2 of the show it'll be time for the Back Trax segment with another exciting batch of favorites from days gone by - included on this edition are Rick Derringer and Chick Corea's Return to Forever - also appearing are Najee and Joe McBride, while rounding the set is a track from the 70s by The Brothers Johnson. Then a bit later in the hour, we have French guitarist Daniel Domenge and Vancouver's Gabriel, as well as Mark Barrios and Joe Ercole; while featured thru-out are Gene Dunlap, Chris Standring, Mike Levine, Nick Colionne, Walter Beasley, Les Sabler, Nate Harasim, Tim Bowman, Glenn McNulty, and Nils! But as we launch a radio show unlike any other, there's a scintillating selection by Torcuato Mariano & his latest release!
In This Issue:

GK - Gregg Karukas

An Evening in Dallas - Joe McBride
Good 2 Go - Rick Derringer
Niculela Es Una Historia - Najee
Where Have I ... - Return To Forever
Streetwave - Brothers Johnson


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Showcase CD
GK - Gregg Karukas:

Having played keys since about the age of six, Gregg Karukas didn't seriously think of a career in music until he saw the Beatles on TV. He spent his early years glued to a jukebox in his father's roadside tavern soaking up the sounds of the sixties and then later, he was influenced by jazz legends such as Herbie Hancock and Les McCann. Karukas was just 17 and right out of high school when he found his way into the clubs and studios of the DC / Baltimore area and he then spent the next few years leading the city's top crossover act. In the early 80s, Karukas headed to LA to expand his musical horizons and he was soon performing with the likes of Patti Austin, Richard Elliot, and Grant Geissman. Forming his own band, Karukas featured some of the best-undiscovered sax talents of the day in Dave Koz, Gary Meek, and Boney James. He released his solo debut in 1987 and then later that same year, he helped launch The Rippingtons as a charter member!

Gregg Karukas - GK
In the period since, Karukas has firmly established his reputation. He's issued ten well-received projects and scored a pair of #1-hits with many others making the top 20 or better. Long a favourite on our hip but humble show, no less than four Karukas albums are firmly ensconced as part of our essential listing list! His 2005 trippin 'n' Rhythm Records debut was a smash success and as he now enters decade #3 in his recording career, Karukas has literally never sounded better! GK is his latest, 11th release overall, and in keeping with the self-initialled approach for the name of the cd, all contributors are similarly identified. With a powerhouse line-up including the likes of RB, PB, RF, JJ, MO, MP and RS - that's Rick Braun, Paul Brown, Russ Freeman, Jessy J., Michael O'Neill, Michael Paulo, and Ricardo Silveira respectively - GK is not only one of the most anticipated projects for 2009, it will in fact bear strong consideration as one of the finest for the year!
Gregg Karukas Photo courtesy of
Gregg Karukas Facebook
It's therefore with pleasure that we now present Gregg Karukas and GK as the subject for the showcase segment. To begin we've selected a smooth and easy track featuring saxplayer CA and identified only as contractually anonymous - see if you can guess who it is. It's called Daylight. Mesa Moon rises at the top of our second hour while Napa Road takes us home! Now I'm not really sure who gets credit for "writing the book on smooth", but one thing is certain - easily an entire chapter belongs to the music of Gregg Karukas. With his stylized approach, on GK Karukas delivers one impeccable track after another. Always melodic and smooth here's one album that's utterly tasteful from beginning to end! Now how do spell the phrase smooth & easy? Arguably, you start with Gregg and end with Karukas! Gregg Karukas Then & Now - Ed#395 Feb.19th, 2006

CD: GK (2009)
Label: Trippin 'n Rhythm Records

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Back Trax: Part One
Joe McBride - A Gift For Tomorrow
An Evening in Dallas - Joe McBride:
Keyboardist McBride was still in high school and playing some of the jazz clubs in nearby St. Louis when he was stricken with a degenerative eye disease, which eventually claimed his sight. His passion was undeterred & he continued his studies majoring in jazz performance. After moving to San Diego in about 1983, McBride met up with Steve Laury & Fattburger and he might have continued in that fertile environment had it not been for a trip to Dallas to visit his brother. It was there that McBride took part in a few jams and subsequently he was flooded with performing opportunities. He ended up moving to Dallas, and developed into one of that city's leading jazz musicians. While enrolled at the University of North Texas, McBride connected with a young trumpeter named Dave Love - a few years later when Love launched the Heads Up record label, McBride was one of the first to be signed to a deal. He released his debut in '92 and has recorded exclusively for Heads Up ever since! On this occasion, we're checking out McBride's '94 sophomore cd in A Gift For Tomorrow and the enticing track An Evening in Dallas! Joe McBride Then & Now Spotlight Feature - Ed#398 March 12th,2006

CD: A Gift For Tomorrow (1994)
Label: Heads Up International
Rick Derringer - Free Ride
Good 2 Go - Rick Derringer:
Rick Derringer was just 17 when his band The McCoys recorded Hang On Sloopy, the #1 hit for the summer of 1965. Later connecting with each of the Winter Brothers, Johnny and Edgar, Derringer became known as one of the hottest guitar slingers of the era. Thru the 70's and 80's, Derringer appeared on numerous albums with Alice Cooper, Richie Havens, and Steely Dan - contributing one of his finest efforts ever on Steely Dan's Show Biz Kids, while also recording on his own. With hits like Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo and Free Ride to his credit, Derringer was selected by the World Wrestling Federation for which he wrote the Hulk Hogan theme song, I Am A Real American. And so it goes in the career that's become legendary. Yet Derringer took a bit of break from metal shredding in late 2002, when he ventured into an entirely new realm with a smooth release. The project contained a few smoothed-out versions of some of Rick's previous hits and showed Derringer right at home in the format - from that effort, we have one of three brand new originals written by Rick & his wife in the exceptionally good Good 2 Go!

CD: Free Ride (2002)
Label: Big3 Records/Beyond Music

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Back Trax: Part Two
Najee - Songs from the Key of Life
Niculela Es Una Historia - Najee:
A native New Yorker, Jerome Najee Rasheed began in music on clarinet and then later added sax and flute. While in high school, he studied under the direction of Jimmy Heath and then after graduating he performed with Ben E. King. In 1980, Najee and his brother Fareed attended the New England Conservatory of Music and upon returning to New York, they were asked to tour with Chaka Khan. In due course, as a spin-off of this association, Najee nailed a record deal and became an instant hit with his '87 Grammy-nominated debut entitled Najee's Theme. After five successful albums with a pair of platinum and a couple of gold album in the mix, he issued Najee Plays Songs from the Key of Life: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder - an instrumental interpretation of the 1976 Stevie Wonder classic. From that landmark release, we've selected an all-time favourite in Niculela Es Una Historia with Najee featured on flute!

CD: Songs from the Key of Life (1995)
Label: Capitol Records
Return To Forever - Where Have I Known You Before
Where Have I Known You Before - Return To Forever:
The contemporary jazz scene of the early 70s was an exciting time as it saw the emergence of fusion as a new and highly creative form that combined improvisation with the power of rock. Although snubbed by many purists of the day, fusion gave rise to many performers and bands that have later been acknowledged as some of the standard-bearers of the jazz idiom. Among these were Chick Corea and the band Return To Forever. With an original configuration that included Flora Purim & Airto, RTF debuted in 1972 with a style that leaned toward Latin in 1972.

By the time 1974 had rolled around, Corea had revamped the line-up to include bassist Stan Clarke, a holdover from the original combo, as well as drummer Lenny White, and 19-year guitar sensation Al Di Meola. The release of Where Have I Known You Before in '74 and the 4th RTF project overall, was one of several seminal projects ushering in a new era. As in the previous RTF release, the music remained melodic, but the traditional jazz feel had virtually been erased having been replaced by a highly charged and more electric feel. However, between the album's more kinetic tracks, Corea soloed on piano on a trio of shorter and more atmospheric pieces whose titles all began with the phrase Where Have I. From one of the greatest listening experiences of the 70s we present RTF featuring Chick Corea on the exquisite title track!

CD: Where Have I Known You Before (1974)
Label: Polydor
The Brothers Johnson - Blam!!
Streetwave - The Brothers Johnson:
Brothers George and Louis Johnson on guitar & vocals and bass & vocals respectively, formed the band the Johnson Three Plus One together with an older brother & a cousin while they were in high school. Later the pair backed Billy Preston before connecting with ace producer Quincy Jones - Jones recorded some of their material and they accompanied Jones on tour to Japan after which Quincy produced their 1976 A&M debut. Scoring a couple of R&B hits, The Brothers Johnson established their presence as a force in R&B with an appealing brand of so-called sophisti-funk as their first two releases both went platinum. Their third effort, entitled Blam!, also produced by Jones, didn't quite match their previous commercial success, but it did provide the ground-swell of a track called Streetwave, a pop-jazz instrumental that remains unparalleled in a career that extends thru to the new millennium!

CD: Blam! (1978)
Label: A&M Records

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
New Music's a new music session with 13 selections new to the show. Our line-up includes saxman Marion Meadows, and Britain's Shakatak, as well as The Rippingtons. Kicking off set #2 is Tom Grant while also appearing are Joyce Cooling and Gregg Karukas - there's music as well by Chuck Loeb and another great track from Joe Ercole and his Exposed release. Then in our final set, we're spinning Chris Grunder, Philippe Saisse, and David Boswell - while in the end there's Spyro Gyra with today's closing selection. But to begin, we have something new of course and this time it's from the recent collaboration by Paul Brown & Marc Antoine !

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