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This Week at Café

March 20th, 2005
Edition #355 PreviouslyThis Week at Café - Edition #355 Next

It all begins with Daryl Stuermer and a fabulous track from his latest album! Then there are great current favourites from Queen Latifah, O'2L, Chuck Loeb, Jamie Bonk, and Bobby Caldwell. We have new tunes from Gabriel Mark Hasselbach & The Longo Brothers as we explore their latest efforts. Then sprinkled here and there, you'll discover a few gems from the past including pieces from Keiko Matsui, Richard Elliot, The Jazzmasters, & Bona Fide. Don't miss our closing set as we hit the mother lode in that regard ... Spyro Gyra, Shakatak, Stevie Winwood, & Ray Garand all in one set! I've also included a track that I haven't played in some, that's Vonnie from Bass X and you'll hear that in the opening set.
In This Issue:

All About Love - Nicolas Bearde

Been So Long - Winston Byrd
Good Times Ahead - Chieli Minucci
Mystic Journey - Andre Delano
I Never Meant To - Matt Bianco
Thursday - Steve Cole

Then & Now Feature - Ken Navarro

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Showcase CD
All About Love - Nicolas Bearde:
Hailing from Nashville, Bearde relocated to 'The City by the Bay' where he has established himself both as a vocalist and as an actor. There are many dimensions to Bearde's career. He's worked on the stage and in film and has lent his dulcet tones to a variety of projects as a voice-over artist. In addition, Nicolas is a founding member of Voicestra, Bobby McFerrin's a cappella group. He continues to perform with that unit as well as to tour, record, and/or perform with notables such as Michael Bolton & The Manhattan Transfer.

Nicolas debuted as a solo performer in 1998 with Crossing the Line. Brimming with dreamy ballads that were described as "fresh and unpretentious", Bearde's style & rich tone drew favourable comparisons to Will Downing. The project gained air play on both sides of the Atlantic and although it's been a few years since that effort, it seems that little if any momentum has been lost with All About Love, his sophomore release.

The project sees the teaming of Bearde's vocal talents with the guitar mastery & production expertise of Chris Camozzi, who contributes to six of twelve tracks. The pairing of Bearde & Camozzi works exceedingly well resulting in several pieces that are exceptional. On the album, Nicolas taps into the music that influenced him as an artist including a Burt Bacharach composition that opens the record.
We've included that one as part of our feature. However, it is in fact Bearde's own compositions that often rise to a level that might best be describe as sublime. The result is a smooth & romantic blend of great ballads that make for a fantastic album and one that is an excellent choice for our showcase feature. So as we showcase All About Love, we're starting with You'll Never Get to Heaven, the aforementioned track from Burt Bacharach. Every Little Star (my favorite) opens hour two and concluding the segment & the show is Be Mine, a highly melodic and samba flavoured ballad. This one really is 'all about love'!

CD: All About Love
Label: Right Groove Rekkids
Web Site: Nicolas Bearde

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Been So Long - Winston Byrd:
Unlike many of his contemporaries, who trained by attending college, Byrd developed his chops the old fashioned way, by playing on the road. Upon graduating from high school he was set to further his formal training but an opportunity to do some work with The Stylistics came up and he opted for that instead. He then landed several gigs as lead trumpeter in a few big bands. He played with the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington's Orchestra and Blood, Sweat and Tears. For the last few years, Byrd has been a member of T.S. Monk's Sextet, and has become known as a well-rounded improviser in various forms of straight-ahead jazz. Soul Searchin' is his solo debut that was released just last year. From that effort, we've chosen a track that shows a smoother side of Byrd's style as he covers the Anita Baker classic.

CD: Soul Searchin'
Label: D.Y.P. Limited

Good Times Ahead - Chieli Minucci:
Minucci developed his unique approach to playing the guitar while attending Ithaca College. In 1982, he teamed up with the late George Jinda, forming Special EFX. The pair recorded extensively and by the mid 90s they were riding a wave of creativity and popularity. It was right around that time that Chieli chose to launch his solo career. Since then, Minucci has developed into one of the most respected artist in contemporary instrumental music. He's not only resurrected the Special EFX name, he's done a variety of session work. He's written for and produced various artists as well as continuing his solo career. In that regard, Minucci's soon to be released Got It Goin' On is his sixth & most recent effort. From that project, we have the advance single. If this track is any indication then indeed there are 'good times ahead' for all Chieli's fans.

CD: Got It Goin' On
Label: Shanachie
Web Site: Chieli Minucci

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Fresh Trax: Part Two

Mystic Journey - Andre Delano:
Delano was only eight years old when he would visit an older cousin who played saxophone to his girlfriend. To quote Andre, " She would absolutely melt," and that's when he decided that was what he wanted to play. Delano's parents had to go into debt to buy him his first sax. He underwent some intense formal training in jazz at Lincoln High School, the alma mater of Miles Davis. The rigorous program required students to practice one hour before and five hours after school on a daily basis. However, the hard work all paid off as the band never lost a competition in three years, and Delano was awarded a full music scholarship. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and following graduation, moved to Los Angeles. In short order, Andre landed work with Stevie Wonder, and Maxwell, among others, and ended up touring around the world. In the course of events, Delano was encouraged to work on a solo project, which has just been released. Titled Full Circle, the album offers a diverse mix of jazz, blues and funk. From that effort we have Mystic Journey, a moody track that lives up to its title.

CD: Full Circle
Label: 7th Note
Web Site: Andre Delano

I Never Meant To - Matt Bianco:
The group Matt Bianco takes its name from a fictitious secret agent and first came together in the early eighties. Mark Reilly and Danny White had worked together a few years earlier in Blue Rondo A La Turk. Reilly wanted to further experiment with jazz, while White had teamed up with Basia Trzetrzelewska. The Polish born vocalist had came to England in 1981 in response to an advert White had placed in Melody Maker. The two have worked together ever since. In any event, the three connected forming the nucleus of the band. They landed a record deal and with the release of their debut in 1984, they went straight to the Top 20. In spite of this initial success, the band members went their separate ways; Danny and Basia issued five albums under the name Basia while Mark recorded a further seven projects under the Matt Bianco banner. The trio recently reunited for the first time in 20 years and has just released Matt's Mood. Their sound has understandably matured but otherwise they've picking up exactly where they left off. The result is a fabulous reunion project and an early musical highlight in 2005!

CD: Matt's Mood
Label: Decca
Web Site: Matt Bianco

Thursday - Steve Cole:
A Chicago native, Cole grew up in a musical family where his mom sang & his dad himself was a saxplayer. Often Steve & his dad would sit around listening to various jazz programs on NPR radio and played name that player. Steve was encouraged to get involved in music, and started in a classical style back in college. In that regard, he studied in Amsterdam for a bit and also got to perform with the Chicago Symphony. However, his focus changed when he discovered the music of Spyro Gyra & Grover Washington and he said to himself, "Hey that's the music that I want to play!" He began to gig on the club scene in Chicago, playing pop, R&B, and jazz. He also started doing some commercial work for radio and TV and did a bit of touring with Brian Culbertson and Bob Mamet. In the course of things, this led to the release of Steve's highly successful solo debut in 1998 and one for which he won the Best New Smooth Jazz Artist a couple of years later. Both of his follow-up efforts have been winners and judging by the advance single, Cole seems poised for similar success with Spin!

CD: Spin
Label: Narada Jazz
Web Site: Steve Cole

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :
Get set for some excitement! On this edition, we begin with a tune from Brian Lubeck and Acoustic Vineyard. There's brand new music courtesy of Acoustic Alchemy and their latest release. Featured selections include trax from Jeff Lorber, Pamela Williams, David Lanz, and 3rd Force as we explore each of their recent albums. Ken Navarro is in the spotlight on a special extended installment of T&N and as an added treat we also have a tune from Dotsero & Fresh Pants !

Then & Now Feature: Ken Navarro

Pride & Joy
Positive Music

Smooth Sensation
Positive Music

In My Widest Dreams
Positive Music

Island Life
Positive Music

Slow Dance

Love Coloured Soul
Positive Music

Ken Navarro: Ken Navarro began his recording career as a premiere session player in Los Angeles and in short order, he had worked with a lengthy list of diverse artists that included Doc Severinsen, John Pattitucci and Dave Koz. In 1990, he chose to go the solo route and simultaneously launched the Positive Music record label. Over the years Navarro has earned a reputation as a top performer and leading stylist in the genre with a string of excellent releases. His music is melodic, uplifting, and is always delivered with the utmost taste. In short, Navarro's name on a project is a virtual guarantee that it's going to be great!

With 14 albums of original material & well over one hundred songs to choose from, I will admit I had quite a bit of difficulty in keeping the number of selections down. In the end I chose six that I feel not only work well in a set but also provide some insight into the diversity & scope of Navarro's creativity. We begin with Nothing Stays the Same from 1994's Pride and Joy and what was already Navarro's 5th release. That is followed by Smooth Sensation, Dancing With Melissa, Pulse Point one of my all-time personal favourites, Slow Dance, & You Are Everything, Ken's current hit from Love Coloured Soul. So get set for some super listening as we present an extended installment of Then & Now and a mini-tribute to a great artist!

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