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This Week at Café

October 25th, 2009
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This Week at ...
… it's down tempo time with Four80East. We've chosen a trio of selections from Roll On and those'll be part of the spotlight segment. Hour 2 brings more thrills with another exciting chapter of Back Trax - highlights on this edition are courtesy of Eric Gale and Mark Portmann. Also appearing - Martin Fuss and bassman Byron Miller while a track from the first Tea release caps the set. Then later in that hour, there's music by Anthony James Baker and Boney James, in addition we have Gregg Karukas and Rick Braun; while featured thru-out are Terry Disley, Nils, and Mike Catalano!
In This Issue:

Roll On - Four80East

The Good, The Bad ... - Martin Fuss
Driving Beverly Hills - Mark Portmann
Morning Glory - Eric Gale
Best Friends - Byron Miller
Souvenue - Tea


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Showcase CD
Roll On - Four80East:

Now nearly 20 years since the launch of Boomtang Records, Rob DeBoar and Tony Grace continue their forays into contemporary jazz with the recent issue of Roll On. As an independent label specializing in the release of 12-inch singles for the UK club scene, the first three years of Boomtang operations saw the issue of fifteen Grace and DeBoer-penned and produced records. By '93, their mandate had branched to include artist development, and with that came a shift in focus with DeBoar & Grace coming to the fore as a crack dance remix and production unit. Then toward the end of the 90s, the veteran Toronto-based team hit upon a concept that allowed for the melding of a dance vibe with some of the jazzier and more eclectic elements that they personally wished to explore. So it was that Four80East came into being - their '97 UK debut spawned the single Eastside that went on to become the seventh most-played track in the USA the following year.

Four80East - Roll On
Meanwhile, we here at The Café were pleased to be one of the first to get hip to their vibe - back here in their homeland! Over the years they've continued in much the same vein issuing a series of heady excursions into the worlds of ambience and trip-hop. But now, just about a dozen or so years after that initial Four80 effort, DeBoer & Grace are back at it with Roll On, their 5th, most recent, and likely their most consistent effort in a string of genre-busting performances! Make no mistake this is electro-trip-jazz at its absolute best! It's therefore with some measure of pleasure that we present Four80East and Roll On as the feature cd for the showcase segment. With DeBoer on keys, bass, & guitar, and Grace on drums, they share in the programming - and in so doing they handle almost the entire musical load. Meanwhile there's occasional spot duty on a few choice tracks from a handful of Toronto's finest!
Four80East - Jazz Trax Festival 2007
Rob & Tony as Four80East at the Jazz Trax Festival 2007
In keeping with which, we've selected a nicely chilled triplet of tunes starting with Shot In The Dark featuring the tantalizing trumpet of Bryden Baird. After All This Time opens hour 2 - with some great guitar and in the pocket piano, here's a track that's both an exotic and esoteric gem! Then in the end, there's Never The Same Way Twice - with sax by Jon Stewart here's an up tempo 'down-tempo' tune! In all, DeBoer and Grace have never sounded better - all of which suggests they're just hitting their stride - in so far as Four80East is concerned, the best may indeed be yet to come!

CD: Roll On (2009)
Label: Native Language Music

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Back Trax: Part One
Martin Fuss - Nightlife
The Good, The Bad ... - Martin Fuss:
Vienna-based Martin Fuss began in music with clarinet lessons when he was 12, but he switched to the tenor sax shortly thereafter. After obtaining a Master of Arts at the local conservatory, Fuss furthered his studies at Berklee in Boston before launching his career. In that regard his credits include Ray Charles, Josef Zawinul, and Natalie Cole as well as concert tours and festivals both at home and abroad. Additionally, Fuss has sessioned with many acts such as the Temptations, Gloria Gaynor, and perhaps noteworthy to fans of smooth, the acid jazz combo Count Basic. On the solo front, Fuss appeared on a few compilations before his '98 North American full-length debut. Moreover, he landed a teaching gig at the University of Music in Vienna all while continuing to record. For the time being, on this side of the Atlantic we are left to content ourselves with Nightlife, Fuss's sophomore release which appeared the following year - from that effort we have The Good, The Bad … but certainly not the ugly! Well articulated with some catchy phrasing!

CD: Nightlife (1999)
Label: Instinct Records
Mark Portmann - Driving Beverly Hills
Driving Beverly Hills - Mark Portmann:
Keyboardist Mark Portmann began on piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory when he was five. Influenced by diverse genres such as classical, jazz, and the pop/rock music of the day, Mark's passion and talent took him to New York City and the Eastman School of Music when he was a teen. At 14, he studied orchestration and composing before heading to Florida to continue his education. He graduated from the University of Miami but had already been performing professionally since the age of 17. Relocating to LA in 1990, Portmann hooked up with Russ Freeman and The Rippingtons within a month or so of his arrival. Playing and recording with the band for about 4 years, Portmann launched his solo career at much he same time and in due course, he connected with producer David Foster. As Foster's protégé, he went on to earn several Grammy nominations while working with many of the biggest names in the biz. On this occasion, we return to 1994 and Driving Beverley Hills for it's title track!

CD: Driving Beverly Hills (1994)
Label: Hands On

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Back Trax: Part Two
Eric Gale - Multiplication
Morning Glory - Eric Gale:
Although he majored in Chemistry at Niagara University, guitarist Eric Gale was determined to make a name for himself in music. So it was that starting in the '60s, Gale set the groundwork for a near 40-year career and one which saw him take part in over 500 sessions. Along the way, Gale recorded with some of the greats - his credits included Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Herbie Mann, and many others. In addition to his highly regarded work as a sideman, he also issued a handful of well-received projects prior to his passing in 1994. On this occasion we return to 1978 and Multiplication. The album was produced by Bob James and from it we have Morning Glory, a track written by Lee Ritenour and featuring another great, the late Grover Washington Jr. It's a standout selection and an example of one of the finest of the day!

CD: Multiplication (1978)
Label: Sony
Byron Miller - Until ...
Best Friends - Byron Miller:
Although he'd started piano when he was five, Detroit-native Byron Miller didn't become serious about music until he was sidelined by a football injury while in junior high. He taught himself how to play bass and keys and right out of high school he stepped into a gig with Roy Ayers Ubiquity. Recording three albums and after several years of touring with Ayers, Miller was recruited by Carlos Santana for the Amigos release. Subsequently, he connected with George Duke and enjoyed a lengthy association that encompassed 14 albums. Otherwise, Miller recorded and / or toured with notables such as the Crusaders, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye, and Whitney Houston while enjoying a15-year stint with the Luther Vandross band. Otherwise, Miller found little time to record on his own, but did manage a pair of releases in the '90s. From his sophomore effort entitled Until …, we're featuring Miller on Best Friends with Doc Powell guesting!

CD: Until ... (1997)
Label: Discovery Records
Tea - Voyages du Jour
Souvenue - Tea:
Personally I don't get the connection between the name of the band and the urbane Afro-chilled mix of flavors they dispense - but in all honesty, it matters not. When first exposed to Tea, led by French-born guitarist Franck Balloffet and So-Cal drummer / keyboardist Phil Bunch, it was on the cd Dreams, and what was already their sophomore release. At the time, the experience proved somewhat overwhelming, as simply put, the originality of their musical creations stood in a class unto itself - no mean feat, as we do indeed listen to a lot of music. Nonetheless, this prompted a bit of 'back tracking' in so far as the band and their first release was concerned, as the word on the street had it that their debut had met with more than casual approval. Upon further investigation, we were obliged to chip in with our own 2-cents worth of critical commentary confirming the effort as certifiably exceptional! From that debut we present Messrs Balloffet & Bunch with the track Souvenue or 'recollections'. With Chana on vocals, here's an ethereal adventure of the highest order!

CD: Voyages du Jour (2004)
Label: Lost Groove Records


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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
New Music: ... the focus falls on fresh listening with 13 tracks that are totally new to the show. A quick run-down of our line-up reveals selections by Patrick Yandall, DF Michael, Avenue H, and the Emilio Palame Band. At the start of set #2 we have Dean Grech while also appearing are Jonathan Fritzén and David Arkenstone, there's a bit more from Brian Bromberg as well as the latest from Tom Braxton. Then in our final set, we've cued One Floor Down and Danish saxman Jakob Elvstrom - there's Les Sabler with his first single from Live at the Sarasota Opera House and finally a tune from trombonist Steve Baxter - and that'll be the closing selection!

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