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This Week at Café

November 7th, 2004
Edition #338 PreviouslyThis Week at Café - Edition #337 Next

Here's a belated Halloween treat just for you! We begin with Vlad and Little Star, a tune that's quickly become a favourite and one that's destined to make my short list as one of the best tracks of the year. Matter of fact the entire set is filled with favourites. Vlad is followed by Pieces of a Dream, Armsted Christian, and Glen McNulty. From that lineup you'd think that this show might be one of my special "best of " editions. The second set does little if anything to dispel that impression. Blake Aaron kicks it off, and then we hear from Eddie Bullen before heading into the showcase cd feature. But you know there's more. There's music from Nura, Acoustic Alchemy, Chuck Mangione, & the late Art Porter Jr....but that's just in the first hour alone! Add to that a highly impressive set of Fresh Trax and a closing set to die for! There's no trick to it. Instead it's a two-hour treat packed with musical gems from beginning to end.

In This Issue:

Benoit/ Freeman - Project 2

Until Further Notice - Joey Sommerville
Stephanie - Christiaan Mostert
Where Our Love ... - Swing Out Sister
A Walk in Paradise - All-For-7
Biarritz - George Collichio

Then & Now Feature - Doc Powell
SPINLIST: Spinlist Ed#338

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Showcase CD
The Benoit Freeman Project 2:
Not surprisingly, the teaming of two top artists in the genre results in one of the top albums of the year. David Benoit and Russ Freeman first worked together back in 1986 on Moonlighting, the landmark debut from The Rippingtons. Following this, Freeman pursued a career as leader of that band and as a guitarist and producer. Meanwhile, Benoit continued a highly successful solo career that has made him one of the most popular artists in Smooth Jazz. In 1994, they came together on a full-fledged collaboration that was appropriately titled The Benoit Freeman Project. Considering their previous work, this was in a sense a reunion album. The success of the Benoit Freeman Project has for many years fueled demand for a follow-up record. Although there have been other occasions on which Freeman & Benoit have combined their efforts, it has only been on a track or two. Now a decade later, the time seemed right for another reunion.

As with their previous collaboration, a live organic feel is achieved by using a topflight rhythm section. The lineup includes Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Alex Al on bass, & Luis Conte on percussion. Benoit and Freeman act as co-producers on the album resulting in a warm, rich, full-bodied sound, yet the material is given room to breathe. The entire cd, apart from the strings, was recorded live from February 10th thru until the 12th, 2004 at Record One in Studio City, CA. For the string dates, Benoit insisted they go to Nashville. In addition, there are a few special guests such as Chris Botti & Vince Gill who lend their considerable talents to the project. In spite of all this though, the majority of the passion on the album is generated by the outstanding interplay between the acoustic piano and classical guitar.
So, as we showcase The Benoit/Freeman Project 2, we needed to look no further than the album's three opening tracks. We begin with Montecito which features some scat like vocals from David Pack formerly with Ambrosia. Via Nueve, a highly melodic track that's propelled by an as easy shuffle groove, kicks off the second half of the show. This is my favourite track on the entire project. And to close we have Palmetto Park, the album's first single. And, if you're anything like me, you'll be grinning from ear to ear as you listen and enjoy!

The Benoit Freeman Project 2
Label: Peak Records
Site: R.Freeman ; D.Benoit

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Until Further Notice - Joey Sommerville:
The essence of Sommerville's music lies in his experiences in the Baptist church. As a teenager, the Detroit native would judge the caliber of his playing by the number of people in the congregation who 'got happy'. He attended Florida A&M University on a scholarship and played with both their symphonic and jazz bands. Shortly after completing his course of studies, Joey was recruited to serve as the principal instructor for an Atlanta-based recording academy. He honed his engineering chops under the tutelage of several top industry veterans and in 1996 he founded Sojo Music, an independent production company and record label. In this capacity, he's built an impressive resume for his work as a mixer and producer for a number of artists and for his extensive work in commercials. In 2001, he contributed to Bob Baldwin's hit single "Business Call" which reached the Top 20 on the Gavin charts. Sommerville's approach to music is representative of a new generation who have embraced advances in technology. This fact is well illustrated by Ride To This, his debut, From that effort, co-produced by Bob Baldwin, we present Until Further Notice. Cowritten with Baldwin who also contributes some tasty keys to the track, this is a totally soothing piece with an infectious groove and melody!

CD: Ride to This
Label: Sojo Music Inc.
Site: Joey Sommerville
Stephanie - Christiaan Mostert:
In a lengthy career that dates back to the early 70s, Mostert has worked with an extensive list of artists. He's appeared or recorded with John Mayall, Joe Walsh, Peter Cetera, Smokey Robinson, Dr. John, Ray Charles, Michael Bolton, and Greg Allman among others. As well, Mostert was for many years a member of the touring band for the Eagles. After the dissolution of the group he followed that with further touring for Glen Frey and Don Henley. As well, Christiaan has worked numerous spots for commercials and soundtracks. Finally though, after about 30 years in music, the veteran saxman has just released Midnite Breeze. This is Mostert's first solo foray into the realms of Jazz, Smooth Jazz, and R&B. The set features a dozen original selections and boasts a lineup of some top flight LA musicians. From that release we have Stephanie the first single. Derol Caraco, who has played extensively with Skipper Wise in Colour Club and Windows, contributes some fiery guitar work to this spirited track that shows Mostert at his best!

CD: Midnite Breeze
Label: Rhombus Records

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Fresh Trax: Part Two

Where Our Love Grows - Swing Out Sister:
Comprised of Corinne Drewery on vocals & Andy Connell on keyboards, this veteran group is quickly approaching the 20th anniversary of its inception. In spite of the success of Breakout, one of their earliest singles, SOS has never attained more than a small but avid following in the USA. They have achieved greater success back home in the UK, but where their sound has met with the greatest acceptance is Japan where they are one of the most popular acts in the country. Nevertheless, their latest effort, Where Our Love Grows, has just been released here in North America and hopefully this album will lead to a larger and more widespread audience for the duo. Since its formation in 1985, the SOS sound has been characterized by sophisticated & lush arrangements. This cd remains true to that style. The presentation is impeccable. The music is jazz-tinged but laden with catchy hooks, resulting in an emotionally complex and yet highly accessible listening experience. From Where Our Love Grows, we'll hear the incredible title track!

*Café Jazz Pick of the Week*

CD: Where Our Love Grows
Label: Shanachie

A Walk in Paradise - All-For-7:
All-for-7 is a new project led by keyboardist and guitarist Jerry Hutchinson and drummer Kevin Stevenson. Stevenson hails from Cleveland, Ohio and was influenced by both his father and uncle, who were a jazz singer and a jazz drummer respectively. He played clarinet in junior high, took drum lessons from his uncle, and also sang in a choir in high school. Kevin attended university in Cleveland and after playing with several different groups back in his hometown, he relocated to NYC in 1979. While there, Stevenson took part in several productions both on and off-Broadway and had a variety of musical experiences which included playing with the Grammy winning Tabernacle Choir. However, it wasn't until 1985 that Stevenson connected with Hutchinson at a studio session.
Meanwhile, Jerry Hutchinson grew up in The Bronx. He began learning how to play piano at the age of seven, and was taught by his father who played several instruments. Initially Jerry showed no interest. However, his dad stuck with the lessons and in the course of a few months things all changed. To this day, Hutchinson remains thankful to his father for instilling him with the determination to stick with it. After graduating from high school, he attended college in Huntsville Alabama, where he sang baritone with a group that went onto become Take 6. In 1985, he returned to NYC and began work as a studio player. It was shortly thereafter that he met Kevin Stevenson.

Although the chemistry was immediate it was some time before the two began to write & produce as a team. In any event, the fruit of their collaboration is the recently released disc titled All-For-7. The name of the project may well be an allusion to the age at which Hutchinson began piano. Nevertheless, this is a fine first effort and from it we have A Walk in Paradise, a wonderfully soothing piece that is full measure for its title!

CD: All-For-7
Label: HipoHash Music

Biarritz - George Collichio:
Inspired by his parents who both played guitar, Collichio first took up that instrument at the age of six. His father was a jazz/blues performer while his mother was a finger stylist who played at church. In short order, George become a highly skilled player and began teaching at 17. Over the years, this aspect of his career has blossomed. He opened his own school of music, which currently enjoys an enrollment of 370 students and employs fifteen instructors. A graduate of SUNY with a Bachelor's in performance, Collichio has played thousands of gigs all across the USA. He's appeared on national and cable TV and has also recorded extensively. His personal discography presently includes seven independently released projects. These range from works in acoustic guitar to fusion flavored outings with just about anything and everything in between. His latest self-titled effort is perhaps the first to capture the full extent of Collichio's stylistic diversity. From that release, Biarritz is the tune that I've selected. It's melodic, funky, & fun and features Collichio playing in perfect synch with saxman Terrance Bruce!

CD: George Collichio (self-titled cd)
Label: Kezia Records
Site: George Collichio

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
If you enjoy your Smooth Jazz with just a bit of talk, then you'll love this installment. Today we're putting the focus on new music. We have brand new tracks from Marilyn Scott, Mindi Abair, & Stacey Knights. We're introducing Nightbyrd and music from their debut. Chris Botti & Sting team up on a selection from Chris's new release. David Mann is featured on a track from the cd Marvin, Teddy & Luther, a project that was produced by Mann and features smooth covers of music originally recorded by Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, and Luther Vandross. From the tribute cd, Forever, For Always for Luther there's a nice tune by Rick Braun that I hope you'll enjoy. Then we have a few favourites from The Urban Jazz Coalition and Eliane Elias. And as if that wasn't enough, we continue a bit of a theme when Doc Powell, who played with Luther Vandross, is featured on Then & Now. There's more including a pair of selections that feature George Duke on the Rhodes electric piano. The first is on a track from the Ray Fuller cd The Weeper, and the second is from the latest by Incognito. The latter is a funk-filled eight-minute excursion that we use to close this presentation of After Hours. But, suffice it to say, we have so much good music, I've had to split this installment into two segments. So once you're done listening to part one, please be sure to click on the second paw to hear part two. In any event, we begin with Joyce Cooling and Camel Back as we get into the great grooves of After Hours !

Then & Now Feature: Doc Powell

Cool Like That
Heads Up International

97th & Columbus
Heads Up International

Laid Back
Discovery Records

Inner City Blues
West Coast Records

Doc Powell: Powell is New York native who discovered his love for music early on. By the age of six he was already playing guitar and in his teens he began recording and performing live. His first big break occurred when Wilson Pickett chose "The Doctor" as his musical director. This led to a stint with Luther Vandross and an affiliation that lasted 15 years. In turn, this raised Doc's profile considerably. It paved the way for him to work with a lengthy list of top artists and to develop a solo career that now includes a total of eight releases. We're running this one a bit in reverse, a sort of Now & Then I guess you could say as we begin the feature with a tune from Cool Like That, his latest. We have Push, the opening track and one that features Kirk Whalum on sax. Also be sure to check out, Ode to Chet, Pacific Coast Drive and Sade's Song from the above albums respectively!

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