Café Jazz Radio - Canada's Smooth Jazz Connection
Featuring the Smooth Groove of Today's Jazz!
This Week at Café

May 22nd, 2004
Edition #325 Previously Next

Highlights !
If you're looking for music to relax and energize you for the week ahead, then look no further. On this edition, we have that and more! For the showcase cd feature we're checking out the sounds of Alan Hewitt and Noche de Pasion. Then in hour 2 we have brand new music from Keiko Matsui, Shakatak, and Plan 9 on the FT segment. We're also introducing the music of Bill Shafton. Add to that a fantastic track from saxman Andre Ward and you know it's gonna be great! The smooth grooves begin with Matt Marshak. We move effortlessly to classics from Everette Harp and Khani Cole . We do our customary bit of exploring as we delve a bit more deeply into recent releases from Joyce Cooling, The Clayton/Scott Group, Peter White, Marion Meadows, & Nestor Torres.

In This Issue:

Noche de Pasion' - Alan Hewitt

In My Hands - Bill Shafton
Facing Up - Keiko Matsui
Tortola Sunset - Shakatak
Every Time ... - Andre Ward
Superfriction - Plan 9

SPINLIST: Spinlist Ed#325
There's a definite international flavour to this show as well. Brazil's Marcos Ariel pays us a musical visit as does Duncan Millar from the UK and Japan's T-Square. Other vintage selections include music from Michael Franks, Rick Braun, and Pieces of a Dream. And if that wasn't enough, we also have one from Helios that remains as one of our all-time favourites. In short, there's a dizzying array of moods & textures that will satisfy even the most discerning sonic palette. One thing remains certain though. You may search far and wide, but you will be hard pressed to find a program to match the unique listening experience of Café Jazz. Fans from California to Massachusetts, from China to Germany all will eagerly agree. There is no other radio program quite like it! So be sure to be sure to spread the word and tell the world about Canada's smooth jazz connection.

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Showcase CD
Noche de Pasion - The Alan Hewitt Project:
Hewitt grew up in northern Michigan where at 10 he began playing drums. By the age of twelve, he was already playing with the best musicians that the area had to offer. As a result, it came as no surprise when Alan decided to pursue his interest in music by attending Berklee in Boston. Following this he toured with several groups and in effect lived on the road for five years. In the course of things Hewitt switched his attention to piano and vocals. As leader of his own band he was able to land a couple of record deals, eventually signing with A&M to work not only on his own album, but also to help in the production of records for several label mates.

In the period since, Hewitt has grown as a songwriter and producer and has also developed into quite a multi-instrumentalist, well versed at keyboards, piano, drums, and percussion as well as at drum programming. Although he's had several cds released under his own name, for the most part Alan has spent his career helping pump out great trax for a wide variety of artists all the way from EW&F to Donnie Osmond. In addition, he's also achieved a fair degree of recognition as an award-winning composer for film & TV.

That more or less brings us to the present with Hewitt and his latest effort Noche de Pasion. Billed as the Alan Hewitt Project, that name rather fittingly suggests a multidimensional approach to its creation by Hewitt and a superb cast of guest players including Jonathan Butler, Mindi Abair, Michael Lington, Euge Groove and Maurice White of EW&F.

Recording this cd as a project enabled Alan to stretch out creatively in ways that he couldn't have had it just been a solo album. Packed with catchy melodies and hypnotic rhythms, the cd is a well-crafted affair that makes for both enjoyable and yet challenging listening and as such makes a great choice as the subject of our feature for today. As we showcase Noche de Pasion, we present the dynamic drive of Breathless featuring the trumpet of Steve Madaio, as well as Blue Sky and Viva la Noche, with John Defaria guesting on guitar on each of these tracks. This one should not be missed!

CD: Noche de Pasion (2004)
Label: 215 Records
Site: Alan Hewitt

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Fresh Trax: Part One
In My Hands - Bill Shafton:
In spite of the urgings of his mother to be a Doctor, Shafton took a bit of a circuitous route before becoming immersed in music. He started out attending university in Santa Barbara with the intention of following a family tradition and becoming a lawyer. But, after a few reggae concerts, his career path changed. He returned to his native Los Angeles to study at Oberlin College where he took courses in jazz and classical guitar along with psychology and religion. Although these may seem an unlikely fit, for Shafton they complemented one another perfectly since it was his belief that ", at its best, is a mystical/religious experience." After graduating in 1993, Bill debuted his talents as a singer & songwriter with solo guitar. Since then he's worked as a session player & producer and as well he formed a children's music company. Through it all, though Shafton felt the call to record again since as he puts it, "With the guitar in my hands, I can communicate in ways that are beyond words. Music gives us the freedom to say what we truly feel." So it was that Shafton issued his latest project, which he appropriately titled In My Hands.

CD: In My Hands (2004)
Label: Independent Release
Site: Bill Shafton

Facing Up - Keiko Matsui:
She was influenced by artists as diverse as Rachmaninoff and Maurice Jarre and possesses a style that is one of the most distinctive in contemporary music. Keiko began learning piano at the age of 5 and was performing her own compositions in junior high. Nevertheless, Matsui graduated from the Woman's University in Japan majoring in children's culture. However, she also continued her musical studies at the Yamaha Foundation. Earning top honours, Keiko was selected to be a Yahama recording artist when she was just 17. She composed her first major film score later that same year. She also fronted a jazz combo and recorded four albums before releasing her critically acclaimed North American debut. Just out is Wildflower, now Ms Matsui's 19th solo release. On the effort Keiko continues to set her own course with a level of artistry that often is quite simply astounding.

CD: Wildflower (2003)
Label: Narada Jazz
Site: Keiko Matsui

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Fresh Trax: Part Two

Tortola Sunset - Shakatak:
Originally formed back in 1980 or so the members of Shakatak have forged a long and successful career. The popularity of their charismatic style & sound is well reflected by their world wide fan base, and yet the group remains almost underground in its appeal. The band's music continues to exude an attractive fusion of influences that has long made them one of our favourites here on our show. Having released in excess of 20 fine projects to date, Blue Savannah issued in the UK late last year is their latest. (Thanks to Ralph Tee at Passion Jazz for keeping us "in the musical loop".)

CD: Blue Savannah (2003)
Label: Passion Jazz
Site: Shakatak

Every Time I Open My Eyes - Andre Ward:
The Chicago-born musician began playing at the age of five and was heavily influenced the late Grover Washington Jr. Once he discovered straight-ahead jazz, Andre also looked to players such as Adderly, Parker, & Coltrane. After a stint at Berklee in Boston, Ward performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival and toured with artists such as Will Downing, The Four Tops, The O'Jays, & Dizzy Gillespie. His debut album, released a couple of years ago, incorporated varied elements of gospel, jazz, and R&B and received a fair degree of critical acclaim & commercial success. Steppin' Up is his recently released sophomore project. From that effort, Every Time I Open My Eyes is the expressive track that we've selected .

CD: Steppin' Up (2004)
Label: Award/Orpheus

Superfriction - Plan 9:
This group is a highly talented ensemble consisting of several veteran players who have contributed to some of the biggest pop hits from the past three decades. For instance saxman Charlie DeChant played with Hall & Oates for close to 30 years. Drummer Charlie Morgan was a part of Elton John's band for 13 years and has over 150 album sessions to his credit. It goes on with Lane Hoppen on keyboards having been a member of the chart topping Orleans in the 80s.

After the success of Cool Breeze their debut effort, & their seasonal follow-up titled The 9 Days of Christmas, Plan 9 chose a slightly different focus for their latest project. Just out is Rearview, a cd which for the most part, pays homage to many of the great songs that made the members want to play music in the first place. Nevertheless, on this occasion, we chose a fantastic original composition!

CD: Rearview (2004)
Label: Plan 9 Partners

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