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

September 4th, 2005
Edition #374
Previously Next

Special Presentation - The Sounds of Summer:
If it was new this past summer & if it was great, chances are that you'll hear it right here on this premier edition of our summer special !! Accepting this as our motto, all the musical pieces fell into place quite nicely for this show. Marc Antoine & Brian Culbertson had new albums, Paul Brown issued a brand new release, and Najee had one as well. So naturally, I selected something from each of those. But true to our mission, there's more to our show than playing just familiar names. As such, we have exceptional pieces from Lisa Hilton, Anthony Pope, & Danny Federici among others. So don't miss it, you'll want to be sure to catch all the great vibes on this program!

In This Issue:

So This Is Love - Lisa Hilton
One Day at a Time - Anthony Pope
Charm - Najee
Fragments of... - Danny Federici
Spin Zone - Blake Aaron
Set You Free - Kem

More of the ... Sounds of Summer

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Highlights Hour One
So This Is Love - Lisa Hilton:

So who is the most prolific independent artist on the scene today? Many, including yours truly, feel it just may be Lisa Hilton. The Malibu based composer & pianist is back with yet another tasty collection, now already her 7th solo album. Well versed at a variety of styles from classical to straight-ahead, this release once again features Ms Hilton's unique blend of musical flavors. Called My Favorite Things, the concept behind the project was to feature a variety of "favorites", from jazz classics to movie themes, mixed in with a few of Lisa's originals. Joining Ms Hilton are Tal Bergman on drums, Reggie McBride on bass and Eric Marienthal on saxophone, now names that are quite familiar to fans of Hilton & her music as each has been part of previous projects. The arrangements are acoustic and generally lean to a straight-ahead treatment. In a word they are quite simply elegant.
A couple of tracks though, are also well suited to Smooth Jazz and it's among these that we find our personal favorite here on My Favorite Things. Specifically, So This is Love is the track & it's a gem!! A captivating melody has always been key to Lisa's success and this one simply sparkles!! The piece features Hilton & Marienthal as they playfully caress the melody. I couldn't help but be moved & I'm certain that you too are going to love it!

CD: My Favorite Things
Label: Ruby Slippers Productions
Site: Lisa Hilton

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One Day at a Time - Anthony Pope:
A native of Queens NY now residing in San Antonio Texas, Pope has always had a love of music. Both his father & mother played instruments, violin & piano respectively, and so it was only quite natural that Anthony also got into music at an early age. He began studying classical and pop piano when he was nine and then, influenced by the Motown sound, he moved on to R&B. For about ten years Pope was quite active on the club scene in NYC as part of a popular band called the Majestics. After relocating to Texas he entered a course of studies, first at St. Philips College and then at South West Texas State University. Pope's passion has now taken him into the realm of Smooth Jazz, an area which well suits Anthony's creativity and sensitivity as a performer. From With All My Heart, his solo debut, we're featuring the rhythmic groove of the opening track. It's a great introduction to this gifted artist and serves as a perfect vehicle to showcase Pope's talents as a composer & arranger!

CD: With All My Heart
Label: Ruby Street Records
Charm - Najee:
Considered a pioneer in the genre, Najee helped define the sound of Smooth Jazz from mid 80s thru until the mid 90s. A native New Yorker, he began his career playing clarinet and then later added both sax and flute. In 1980, Najee & his brother Fareed relocated to Boston to attend the New England Conservatory of Music. They returned to NY a few years later when they were asked to tour with Chaka Khan. Thru the course of events this led to Najee recording his debut album in 1986. The independently released Najee's Theme went platinum and was nominated for a Grammy. That was followed by yet another platinum release together with several more albums that attained gold status, with 1995's acclaimed "Najee Plays Songs from the Key of Life: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder" among them.
Never in a rush to capitalize on his popularity Najee, has recorded only a handful of projects in the time since with My Point of View being his most recent & 9th release over all. Possessing one of the truly distinctive voices in music, we've selected a track that features Najee's signature sound. It's a pretty piece that was co-written by & features Rex Rideout and it's entitled Charm!

CD: My Point of View
Label: Heads Up International
Sites: Najee

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Highlights Hour Two
Fragments of an Afternoon - Danny Federici:
Danny Federici, now where have you heard that name before? If you're an avid Bruce Springsteen fan you may have seen Federici's name listed in various credits as a member of the E Street Band. In fact Federici is a founding member & has performed with them for over 3 decades. Now having backed someone of Springsteen's stature, has resulted in frequent & rather lengthy breaks in an otherwise hectic schedule. This has afforded Federici the luxury of the time needed to explore & expand his own projects. His first solo effort was issued in 1997 initially under the name Flemington and then later re-released as a self-titled & slightly expanded project. So, it's been a few years since that outing, time enough to allow Federici to further develop his ideas & present them on Out of A Dream. Although there are several tracks that merit attention, there is nevertheless one that for us at least, clearly stands out from the rest. A melodic hook, an easy refrain and that irresistible sort of groove that we just can't get enough of!! It's called Fragments of an Afternoon and we have it for you on this edition!

CD: Out Of A Dream
Label: Random Notes
Spin Zone - Blake Aaron:
Guitarist Blake Aaron has for the better part of the last decade been active as a player on the LA & national music scenes. In addition to the work that he's done for TV, Aaron has appeared live and in the studio with many of today's top Smooth Jazz stars including artists such as Steve Reid & Bamboo Forest. His debut album issued in 2001, featured appearances from David Benoit, Eric Marienthal, & Tony Guerrero and drew a fair bit of attention on the R&R New and Active chart. That was followed a couple of years later by a collection of hip originals, this time with Greg Adams & Will Donato as featured performers, and one which garnered enough media interest for Aaron to land a deal with 215 Records. So now at a pace of a cd every two years, Blake is back with Shine, his latest project which is forthcoming. From that album, we have the infectious energy of the lead single. Great track too, one that should put this brand new effort squarely "in the spin zone" on Café Jazz!

CD: Shine
Label: 215 Records
Sites: Blake Aaron
Set You Free - Kem:
Nashville-born, & now based in Detroit, Kem is Kem Owens. His debut album sold 10,000 units as an independent release before Motown picked it up as part of a five-cd package deal. It later went on to reach Top 20 on the R&B charts. No wonder, as there's plenty of substance to this performer's style. Not only does Owens handle vocals and play keyboards, he also writes, arranges, and produces all the material. Far from flashy, Kem's arrangements are surprisingly subdued. Yet this seems to work best, as it allows his sometimes no-louder-than-a-whisper vocals to shine!! Album II is Kem's recently released follow up project. There's an understated elegance to it all, a refined blend of R&B and jazz with heartfelt lyrics & mature expressions of love. From that effort we have the haunting piece that rates as one of his best!

CD: Album II
Label: Motown
Site: Kem

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
As we continue with the Sounds of Summer review, we have more fabulous grooves that were released in the summer of '05, including tracks from Euge Groove, David Pack, and Earl Klugh. But I just couldn't resist adding some outstanding pieces that made it into our studio just days before we were going to production with this segment. For that reason you'll hear music from Brian Simpson, Jason Parra, Mark Carter, & Kenny Carr, so look for those (and maybe one or two more) sprinkled thruout the show!

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