Hardcastle 4 - Paul Hardcastle:
Although Hardcastle had been a part of the London music scene as far back as 1981, things didn't really start to click until the release of Zero One in 1984. That record included Rainforest, which proved a modest hit on the British pop charts. But it was in America where the tune literally took off. It was there that Rainforest reached #1 in sales as a 12-inch and knocked Madonna off the top of the dance charts in the process.
It was Hardcastle's follow up, however, that would break his name internationally. Ever staying true to the dance floor feel that had always been integral to his sound, Hardcastle's self-titled effort contained 19, a track based on a statistic he had heard about the average age of combat soldiers in the Vietnam War. It went #1 in 13 countries, sold 4 million copies worldwide, and was one of the top single for 1985. Hardcastle's reputation was secure!
|Although several subsequent projects met with
varied success, Hardcastle chose for a time to switch gears. He worked
as a remix producer for the likes of Barry White, Hiroshima, & others
and also composed for TV. In 1990 he had a pair of releases which due
to contractual problem were issued under pseudonyms & which cracked the
top 5 in Britain. In spite of the success of these efforts, Paul was still
in a sense looking for his true direction. In 1991, Kiss The Sky, with
Jaki Graham vocals, was issued by Motown and foreshadowed things yet to
come. What followed was The Jazzmasters a hybrid of jazz & dance music
that featured Helen Rogers on vocals & Gary Barnacle on sax & flute.
The album first caught on in Japan & in time, it swept America and then the world. In the period since, Hardcastle's music has become a staple in the Smooth Jazz format. He's maintained a characteristic sound & style while continuing to explore a seemingly infinite number of variations on a smooth & soothing laid back sort of theme. With four Jazzmasters projects to now go along with four more under his own name, Hardcastle's musical creations have invariably become instant classics. That is definitely true for Hardcastle 4, the subject of today's feature.
|Paul & daughter Maxine||
This album nicely captures the quintessential Hardcastle sound & rates
as one of his finest in years if not in his entire career, and will
no doubt be among the top records for 2005. So it's with great pleasure
that we now place Paul Hardcastle & Hardcastle 4 in our music spotlight.
To begin, we've selected Serene, the album's first single & one that's
already perched at the top of several charts. Midnight Moon opens hour
two & features the saxwork of Snake Davis. And finally to conclude the
feature & the show we have the funky Straight Ahead, another great track
that once again features Snake Davis this time on both sax & flute!
|Back Trax: Part One|
& Juliet - Euge Groove:
A fabulous track to start our Back Trax feature, this time courtesy of Steven Eugene Grove or Euge Groove as he's otherwise known. Groove is a TOP alumnus who for a time freelanced as a session player. He was part of Tina Turner's entourage on her farewell tour before beginning his career as a solo artist on the old MP3 site a few years back. His tunes were among the most popular of all downloads and remained on the top 10 of the MP3 charts for over 6 months. Steve was able to parlay this success into a recording contract and with several well-received projects to his credit he is firmly established as one of the new favourites in SJ. However, on this occasion we're going to the piece that broke the sound of Euge Groove onto the scene. The tune was written in Verona Italy, the setting for the Shakespearean play Romeo & Juliet & that also ended up being the title of the track!
CD: Euge Groove (2000)
Label: Warner Bros.
Web Site: Euge Groove
Del Luna - Russ Freeman & Craig Chaquico:
Since launching his career in the mid 80s Russ Freeman has achieved recognition as a top guitarist & producer in the SJ genre. He's enjoyed a string of successes with the Rippingtons, as a solo artist, & with several other projects. Meanwhile, Craig Chaquico initially enjoyed the pop & rock spotlight as a member of Jefferson Starship before switching gears & taking up acoustic guitar. In the early 90s he launched his solo career as he branched into new age & then smooth jazz. In that regard his efforts put him squarely at the forefront of the contemporary movement. In any event, the two connected back in 1998 for their one time collaboration From the Redwoods to the Rockies & a release that proved to be one the finer albums of the year. From that effort we're featuring Samba Del Luna. It's a beautifully structured piece that is propelled by the interplay between 2 acoustic guitars, Freeman's nylon strings & Chaquico's steel strings, and then further enhanced by the tasty piano work of David Benoit. One of the best smooth jazz tracks ever!
CD: From the Redwoods to the Rockies (1998)
Label: Windham Hill Jazz
Web Sites:Freeman ; Chaquico
|Back Trax: Part Two|
Shades - Chris Standring:
Chris is a classically trained guitarist who attended the London College of Music. He moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s & shortly after teamed with keyboardist Rodney Lee for Solar System, a project grounded in acid jazz. This was followed by a stint in Guitars Saxes & More and subsequently Standring joined Rick Braun as part of Braun's band. In turn this led to a record deal and to the release of Velvet, his solo debut. From that 1998 effort, we're featuring Cool Shades, a track that was a fairly big hit for Standring & one of the finer tracks for the year. BTW, that's the trumpet of Chris's old boss, Rick Braun, that's featured on the piece!
CD: Velvet (1998)
Label: Instinct Records
Web Site: Chris Standring
- Roberto Perera:
Born in Uruguay, Perera was only 12 when his mother enrolled him in the conservatory. There he selected the rare 36-string Paraguayan harp. Although the instrument had strong physical limitations Perera's desire to play a variety of styles led him to experiment & develop his own technique. Always striving to stretch it's boundaries, Perera's passion & talent have combined to prove that the harp is indeed very hip. It also led Jazziz magazine to declare him "a present-day champion of his instrument." From In the Mood, his superb 1999 release, we've selected Insatiable, a track that features our old friend Peter White on guitar!
CD: In The Mood (2000)
Label: Heads Up International
Song - Soundscape:
To cap off the BT feature we present the stylings of Mick Talbot and Chris Bangs as Soundscape. Talbot was an original member of Style Council and also played with Dexy's Midnight Runners. Meanwhile Bangs is often credited as being one of the greatest creative forces in the birth of the acid jazz movement. The two united in the mid 90s to create Soundscape, a project that combined Talbot's jazz sensibilities with Bangs' talent for creating catchy dance club rhythms. They released a series of projects first as Soundscape and then later added UK as a suffix to their name. From their very first release, the 1996 Life Force album, we chose Morning Song, a great track that was a bit of a hit on this side of the pond and one that's highlighted by the saxwork of Gary Spacey Foote. Melody & a groove that won't quit !! I know you're gonna love it!
CD: Life Force (1996)
Label: Instinct Records
|After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :|
|On today's installment, we're going all out!! Michael Lington is in the spotlight on T&N. We're delving into recent efforts from Marc Antoine, David Pack, Gregg Karukas, & Brian Simpson and then we're introducing Jay Soto, Tom Braxton, & Shady Grady. You'll hear those all in the course of this action packed fun-filled hour of music. To begin we have Paul Brown & music from The City. Brown does a couple of takes on this track and this time we have the instrumental version of the title track!! And then to cap off the segment we have something new from Herbie Hancock. If you're a fan of Carlos Santana, you'll want to check this out, as Carlos guests on the track!|
Then & Now Feature : Michael LingtonSo with a catalogue of four albums to choose music from, featuring Michael & his music on one of our Then & Now segments was a natural!! We kick things off by revisiting Michael's self-titled debut for his cover of the classic Harlem Nocturne. From Vivid, his sophomore release I've selected Sunset (Por Do Sol), an old favourite. That's followed by In The Shade & Pacifica from his past two efforts. I've purposely selected pieces that are somewhat varied in tempo & texture and that to extent help display some the more subtle & nuanced elements in Lington's repertoire. All in all a very nice feature with some very nice music that I'm sure you'll enjoy!
Michael Lington: The Copenhagen-born saxplayer began playing clarinet at seven and for a period underwent some classical training. It was Michael's grandfather, Otto Lington, who had a tremendous impact on shaping Michael's musical tastes. The elder Lington was an early proponent of jazz in Denmark and it was in this way that Michael was exposed early on to the music of Adderly, Coltrane and Sanborn. As a result, Lington switched to the sax at age 15.
Web Site: Michael Lington