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This Week at Café

November 29th, 2009
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This Week at
… on this edition, it's Anthony James Baker in the spotlight - we're featuring some great music in triplicate from Looking Ahead on the showcase segment. Then stay with us in hour 2 for Fresh Trax and the latest and best in new music. Highlights include some up and comers in Marcin Nowakowski and Eric Roberts while debuting are Pete Lacey, Craig Sharmat, and from Italy the band S-Tone Inc. Then later in that hour, we switch things up with a few favourites from the past - there'll be music from Gregg Karukas, Jeff Jarvis, & George Benson. As well, there's Richard Elliot - while the remainder of the show is peppered with excitement and selections by LA Chillharmonic, Terry Disley and Warren Hill. But helping us set up the pins for a radio show that's genuinely on the cutting edge of cool we have a tune by Lee Ritenour!

3 out of 4 ain't bad!
Just in! Your humble host has been nominated CSJA broadcaster of the year for 2009 - my 3rd nod in the past 4 years! Online voting begins in January!

In This Issue:

Looking Ahead - Anthony James Baker

Feelin' Good - Marcin Nowakowski
Flying Free - Eric Roberts
Cloud's Rest - Pete Lacey
Song For Colleen - Craig Sharmat
How High Is The Moon - S-Tone Inc.

Special Feature - The Good Life

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Showcase CD
Looking Ahead - Anthony James Baker:

Anthony James Baker began playing in the pubs and clubs of Kent, England before moving to London in the 80s. He soon plugged into that city's music scene and landed gigs with Tears for Fears and Big Country before relocating to LA in the 90s. There he studied with guitar greats such as Norman Brown and Frank Gambale and after attending the Grove School of Music, Baker packed his bags and moved again, this time to Denver, Colorado. He became well established on Denver's cosmopolitan stage, all of which led to the release of his solo debut in 2001. The AJB Band Live followed a couple of years later, and now a few years later still the jazz-rocker finds himself back in London none the worse for wear from travels! Just issued is Looking Ahead a 5-track EP and judging by this effort, it appears that if anything Baker has gained immeasurably from his varied experiences. Additionally, the project title may well describe AJB's sense of optimism after releasing such a high caliber album, as there isn't a weak track in the bunch!

Anthony James Baker - Looking Ahead
Contributing to the disc are Bobby Wells on keys as well as saxman Darren Rahn who split the production duties. Suffice it to say, this is one highly impressive disc … now giving us cause to pause and to direct the sparkle of the Café Jazz spotlight at Anthony James and that cd. We have the usual tasty complement of selections beginning with the first single to radio in She's So Precious. With Bobby Wells the composer of the track on keys, Baker's full-bodied tone has never sounded finer! At the top of our second hour, Baker asks the musical question What If … one of two tracks that he previously recorded during his Live sessions … Darren Rahn contributes sax, keys, bass, drum programming, and sound effects thereby buoying the current version!
Anthony James Baker at The JVC Jazz Festival!
Anthony James Baker
Then there's Malaga, a melodic up-tempo Spanish flavored selection that Baker co-wrote with Rahn that's the feature closer. With a fiery style that's already shown immense evolution, we share Baker's enthusiasm in "looking ahead" … to more smooth, rich, & warm signature sounds in the years to come!

EP: Looking Ahead (2009)
Label: Independent Release

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Marcin Nowakowski - Better Days
Feelin' Good - Marcin Nowakowski:
Polish saxman Marcin Nowakowski studied at the Academy in Warsaw, and then later he ended F. Chopin's Jazz Academy. He went on to play with the band Metro and apart from being a sideman on a variety of top projects he played with the band Woobie Doobie for many years, and thereby honed his chops. In 2002 he backed Jose Carreras, while thru-out his career he's collaborated with many of the top players on the Polish stage. His 2005 Smooth Night debut featuring many of his countrymen opened the door a crack so to speak and got Nowakowski noticed - now he's set to make that giant leap across hemi-spheres with Better Days his sophomore album. Produced in conjunction with Jeff Lorber, on this latest endeavor Nowakowski is backed by some of the finest from the American scene: Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar, Alex Al on bass, Lenny Castro on percussion, and Jeff Lorber on keys as well as many others. From that effort we've selected the aptly entitled Feelin' Good!

CD: Better Days (2009)
Label: Smooth Jazz Records
Eric Roberts - My Brazilian Heart
Flying Free - Eric Roberts :
An accomplished musician who's been playing professionally since he was 16, Eric Roberts earned a BA in Music from Ithaca College and then a Masters from the University of Miami. Included on his resume are many Broadway shows, as well as a variety of gigs wherein he's backed everyone from Chuck Berry and The Fifth Dimension to Chubby Checker and The Smothers Brothers. With a repertoire ranging from classical and jazz, to new age, Brazilian and Nuevo Flamenco, the recently issued My Brazilian Heart is Roberts' most recent release. From that effort, we have Flying Free, an acoustic gem upon which Roberts sounds more than just a bit reminiscent of some of finer offerings from Earl Klugh!

EP: My Brazilian Heart (2009)
Label: Music Magic Productions

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
Pete Lacey - Pete Lacey
Cloud's Rest - Pete Lacey:
Based in Santa Cruz CA, Pete Lacey presents a mix of modern jazz with nuances of Phil Collins, Chuck Mangione, and David Foster. Lacey's credits include a raft of names - among them some of the biggest from the earlier days of pop such as Frankie Avalon, Smokey Robinson, and Chubby Checker. Having recently joined forces with guitarist Greg Mullins to create The Lacey-Mullins Nocturnal Obsession Project, the dynamic duo recently issued an album that they refer to as the LMNOP release. On this occasion however, we've opted for a track from Lacey's solo cd - from that effort we have a tune entitled Cloud's Rest. Inspired by the massive mountain of the same name which resides in Yosemite National Park, upon the track Lacey performs on all the instruments to convey the euphoria of the view from its summit!

CD: Pete Lacey (2009)
Label: Mountain Top Music
Craig Sharmat - So Cal Drivin
Song For Colleen - Craig Sharmat:
Coming in at 5'9" and 125lbs, as a teen Craig Sharmat realized he wasn't cut out for football - he abandoned his dreams of playing middle linebacker for the NY Giants and opted for a career in music. For a time he worked with Ronnie Laws and vocalist Randy Crawford but, by his early 30s, he had tired of life on the road, and turned to composing instead. In that regard, Sharmat has written thousands of TV cues and quite a few jingles; additionally he's composed scores for film & TV while also creating full orchestral arrangements. Recently convinced to join a "groove band", the fire to play jazz was rekindled! Sharmat was soon ready to strike out on his own and as luck would have it, his friend and neighbor, none other than Rick Braun, helped enormously in giving Sharmat's debut the momentum the project needed to bring it to fruition. With a mix of material both old and new as well as several pieces he'd been performing with his band Comfort Zone, Sharmat's So Cal Drivin is a leisurely cruise thru a variety of very comforting styles. From that effort we have a ballad that Craig wrote for his wife - the poignant & poetic Song for Colleen!

CD: So Cal Drivin (2009)
Label: Scoredog Music
S-Tone Inc. - Moon In Libra
How High Is The Moon - S-Tone Inc. :
Coming to us from Italy is S-Tone Inc. a project led by Stefano Tirone. Based in Milan, Tirone earned a degree in architecture from the Polytechnic institute, but for the better part of last 20 years he's balanced that with a career in music. Initially studying guitar and then later piano, Tirone didn't become interested in recording until the 80s. The year 1992 finally saw the issue of his debut during the age of acid jazz. That first effort laid the ground-work for what was to follow in 1996 when Tirone hit upon the concept for S-Tone Inc. Able to refine that sound he found his true direction in 2002 with the issue of what was the 3rd cd under the S-Tone Inc. banner. Moon in Libra is now the fifth and latest. Incorporating elements of Brazilian music, as well as influences from jazz, funk and soul, Tirone is nonetheless always mindful of his experiences in house music. The track we play in How High is the Moon features a definite Bossa flair with some super vocals by Angie Brown as an added dimension - one of the freshest pieces to this point in the year and a definite high-water mark for the current show!

CD: Moon In Libra (2009)
Label: Schema Records

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
The Good Life … on this installment it's a theme show called The Good Life as every tune we play has life in its title - this is the second and concluding chapter in the series. So stay tuned for tracks such as New Life, Life Is, and Lovin' Life, with a total of 15 tunes as we present a 60-minute musical lesson in "Life 101". Opening things are The Rippingtons and they're followed by Nate Harasim and Louie Shelton; then there's Brian Bromberg, and Paul Taylor. Set #2 has Dancing Fantasy and David Lanz with the tune for which we named this segment; it continues with Analysis and The Jazzmasters and ends with Chris Geith. Meanwhile the final frame opens with the guitarist known as Vlad and carries on with a pair of Genes; first up is Gene Cannon and then there's Gene Dunlap. Finally it's the two Dave's in Messrs Boswell and Koz that conclude the set and the show!

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