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

January 8th, 2006
Edition #391 Previously Next

We're taking a bit of a break from our Best of '05 review and at the same time taking care of some unfinished business ... Spotlighted on the showcase feature is Brian Culbertson while Fresh Trax, our biweekly review of all the best new music returns with the first installment for the new year!

Improved Steaming on the Audio Page!
New for '06, we've switched to using the mp3 format for our sound files while also improving sound quality and making playback easier than ever before. Just click on any of the audio paws for instant 160 kbps streaming and sound quality superior to most FM broadcasts. You'll also find the show will down load as separate clips that you can easily toggle thru to more quickly get at the music you want!

In This Issue:

It's On Tonight - Brian Culbertson

Vinoy Park - TFOXX
The Hustle - Snake Davis
Shadows - RC & the Groovediggers
Good Morning Heartache - Chris Botti
Masarap - Wavelength

Then & Now - Chieli Minucci

***Most Played in '05 ***

Showcase CD
It's On Tonight - Brian Culbertson:

Brian's adventures in music began at the age of 8 when he took up piano. Thanks to his dad, an award-winning high school jazz band director, Brian was exposed to a variety of sounds & styles. Jim Culbertson helped his son develop an ear for music and also taught him to play several instruments. With help from his father, Brian quickly added drums, trombone, and bass to his music arsenal. In junior high, Brian grew bored with classical recital pieces. He began composing and experimenting with a synthesizer and an old four-track recorder. By the time he performed at his 7th grade piano recital, all of his material consisted of original music. Soon after graduating from high school, the native of Decatur, IL headed to nearby Chicago to further his musical studies. With the help of a family friend, he managed to sign a record deal.
In 1994, at the ripe age of 20, Culbertson more or less single-handedly recorded his debut project in the bedroom of an apartment that he shared with three college buddies. The album proved to be a resounding success and the single Alone With You made it to the Top Five, remaining there for ten weeks! Brian's subsequent efforts have been nothing short of phenomenal & placed him squarely near the front of the smooth jazz pack. Some top releases, a #1 album and a few years back it all culminated with Culbertson's selection as best keyboardist in smooth jazz. With eight albums now to his credit, Brian most recent success is It's On Tonight which also reached #1 on a few charts this past year and we have that for you as the subject of our showcase feature.
Photo: Courtesy of
Warner Bros
We begin with tune that exhibits Brian's trademark blend of rhythms & grooves with more than just a hint of romance in the air. It's entitled Forbidden Love, and not coincidentally it's one of our favourites on the album.!

The private pleasure of a Secret Affair opens hour 2 & that track is nicely iced by ultra moody trumpet work courtesy of Chris Botti. And although it's the album's opening track, Let's Get Started caps off our affair. The selection features Eric Darius on sax, Darius has been part of Culbertson's touring band of late. It's Brian's latest single to radio and we expect that it too will quickly begin its ascent to the top of the charts!

CD: Brian Culbertson
Label: GRP
Sites: Brian Culbertson

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Vinoy Park - TFOXX :
Coming to us from St. Pete's Florida, TFOXX is Willie J. Thompson III; Thompson earned his nickname a few years back because of the sly way he plays guitar. As a young man, he entered the Marine Corps, a gig that proved to be a rather lengthy one as it lasted 20 years or so. Nonetheless it did allow TFOXX to gain valuable experience as he performed all over the US and appeared with Chubby Checker live in Japan. Since then, "The Foxx" has worked at establishing himself on the music scene in the Tampa Bay area. He's opened for a variety of acts, among them being George Benson, BB King, Roger Smith, & more recently Brian Culbertson & Patti Austin. Now a veteran performer, Thompson has played professionally for 29 years, and he has 4 previous cds to his credit. Nevertheless, "T" has just launched a brand new phase in his career. Early in 2004 he won a battle of the bands competition sponsored by WSJT, the smooth station in the area. And of course you've heard the name TFOXX on our show before.

We first spotlighted a couple of tracks by "T" after receiving an ep of his material just over a year ago. Since then TFOXX has had a selection that he co-wrote featured on the new release from top producer, now also top guitarist, Paul Brown, and you've also heard that track on our show. That brings us almost completely up to date as TFOXX is presently poised to continue building momentum with Now Can U Feel Me. This latest release was produced by our old friend Allon Sams at Studio A and we'll be going to this one quite frequently in the weeks ahead as there are several selections that are a welcome fit for our show. In any event, from that effort, we have Vinoy Park the lead track that's musically "frosted" by the cool flugelhorn of Mic Smith, who guests on the track. The quartet of players is rounded out by Sams on keys, Ruben Drake on bass, and the sly one himself who provides us with some very slick licks on the selection!

CD: Now Can U Feel Me
Label: Den House
Sites: TFOXX ; Allon Sams
The Hustle - Snake Davis:
Snake has enjoyed a lengthy career as one the premier saxmen in the UK. He's appeared with all the big names and for the past few years he's been a guest on a more or less permanent basis with Paul Hardcastle & The Jazzmasters. In addition Snake has enjoyed a substantial solo career with 3 releases to his credit. Hysteria released in 2003 is his most recent effort of new material. Although the album is already a couple of years old, it just made its way to this side of the water! In spite of this fact, we're breaking our own rules and made it eligible for our FT feature!

A breach in protocol perhaps but I think we come off looking rather good on this one! A rather excellent release, I could have chosen any one of several selections for our feature. Still, there is one track that, at least for me, stood out and said "play me!" and we have it for you on this show. And although we're generally not partial to covers, I'm making yet another exception. From Hysteria we'll hear Snake's take on The Hustle, the Van McCoy hit from '75!

CD: Hysteria
Label: Skin Records
Site: Snake Davis

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
Shadows (in the Dark) - RC & the Groovediggers:
The RC in RC & The Groovediggers is, Mr. Royce Campbell. Campbell first became serious about music at the age of 15 when guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix became huge influences. By the time he'd finished high school, Campbell was certain he wanted to pursue a career in music. For the most part this only became possible thru a musician uncle who invited Royce to live & study with him. As a result, in 1973 Campbell was asked to join Marvin Gaye on tour. A couple of years later, he was hired to perform at three concerts with Henry Mancini. Mancini was so impressed that Royce became his regular guitarist; Campbell ended up touring with the famed band leader for 19 years in all!

Royce's first cd was released back in 1990 and in the time since he's been a part of 14 projects as a leader or co-leader and has appeared on over thirty others as a sideman. His most recent effort is Right Now as RC & The Groovediggers! From that effort we have the smooth groove of Shadows (in the Dark). Some very tasty work on the selection is provided courtesy of Ron Diehl & Butch Taylor who lend their talents to the tune on sax & piano respectively. Nevertheless, it's the head Groovedigger, RC himself, who comes off ever-so-calm-cool-and-collected!

CD: Right Now!
Label: Independent
Good Morning Heartache - Chris Botti featuring Jill Scott:
In the last few years Chris Botti has become one the hottest artists on the contemporary instrumental scene. He's issued several releases that fall somewhere between smooth jazz and other genres in an effort to broaden his appeal. In that regard he's been enormously successful. He seems to have not only maintained his smooth jazz fan base but he's also crossed over and achieved broad mainstream appeal. To Love Again is his latest release that follows hot on the heals of When I Fall In Love. Okay I'll admit we were just a bit slow to jump on the band wagon with this one, but upon closer listening found the appeal of one track in particular, undeniable. It's Good Morning Heartache, the first single to radio that features Jill Scott on vocals and that's the one we have for you on this feature!

CD: To Love Again
Label: Columbia
Site: Chris Botti
Masarap - Wavelength:
Offering a sound that's rooted in a variety of styles we have the band known as Wavelength. The man behind the group is Ferdinand Magallanes; Hendrix, Cream, Zeppelin and other big names of the day were all early influences. In spite of graduating with an Electrical Engineering degree, Magallanes chose to devote himself entirely to music. He toured throughout the US with several funk and R&B groups after which, his tastes broadened to include jazz artists; Herbie Hancock, Chic Corea, Bob James, and George Benson among others.

Ferdinand started the original Wavelength back in the 80s but over the years the band's style has continued to evolve with various San Francisco musicians contributing to the ensemble which now stands at eight members strong. The constant has been Magallanes himself who plays keys and handles writing and arranging. From the band's sophomore release entitled Masarap subtitled delicious, we have the title track. On this stand out selection, the group effort is highlighted by the fine trumpet work of Mike Galisatis as well as some excellent electric guitar from Ron Smith. All nicely simmered and served over a bed of horns & percussion while laying down an appealing funky Latin groove!

CD: Masarap (delicious)
Label: Independent

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :
On this edition we're spotlighting music from Chieli Minucci on an extended Then & Now feature. We have a total of six tracks, one from each of Chieli's solo releases. Apart from that, we have new music from Jimmy Sommers and Alex Bugnon. We're introducing North Woodall and Jamie Williams; we something from Dave McMurray & his best of release and there's also a track from Jon Fessendon that we haven't played in some time as well as the latest single to radio from Ken Navarro & Love Coloured Soul. That's all coming up this hour!
Then & Now Feature: Chieli Minucci



It's Gonna Be Good

Sweet On You

Night Grooves

Got It Goin' On

Chieli Minucci: "A cofounder of Special EFX, one of the pioneering and most popular groups in the young history of smooth jazz, Minucci long ago established his credentials as a superb guitarist, songwriter, arranger, producer and bandleader in his own right." - courtesy of Shanachie records. Born in Huntington, Long Island, Minucci grew up in nearby Forest Hills, Queens, where he still resides. His Italian-born father, Ulpio, was a composer who wrote for Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby. It was the elder Minucci who introduced his six-year-old son to the piano and who first encouraged him to try his hand at composing. By the time he was 8, Chieli discovered the guitar and that became his lifelong passion. He formed his first band at 13 and after high school he attended Ithaca College where he developed his unique approach to playing and where he became exposed to jazz.

Photo:Courtesy of Chieli's Site
Chieli Minucci & Jeff Golub
Warren Hill's Smooth Jazz Cruise 2004

In 1982, Minucci first met the late George Jinda during a series of jam sessions and the two hit it off. Soon after they began laying the groundwork for Special EFX and what was to become one of contemporary jazz's most endearing projects. In the course of events they recorded 13 albums. Their final project together as Special EFX was 1995's Body Language which saw the duo ride a new wave of creativity & popularity. It was right around then, that Chieli launched his solo career while almost simultaneously creative differences led to an amicable parting of the ways between Jinda & Minucci. In the time since, Minucci has developed into one of the most versatile & respected artist in contemporary instrumentals. He resurrected the Special EFX name a few years back and has spearheaded three excellent projects. He's earned several Emmy nominations for his work on The Guiding Light and was an award winner in 1998. He's written for and produced various artists, done a variety of session work for the likes of Celine Dion & The Backstreet Boys, and has also continued to record as a solo artist with a total of six releases now to his credit.

It's of course this latter aspect of his career that's our focus here on Then & Now, as we go six for six; that's six tracks, one from each of Chieli's solo efforts. Phat City from Minucci's 1995 solo debut starts the feature. Then we have Anything and Everything from Renaissance, and that's followed by Follow You, Follow Me from It's Gonna Be Good. The second half of the segment begins with one of our all time favourites, Breaking Away! Things ease a bit with Foolin' Around Again from Night Grooves before we kick into high gear once again with Deeper Than Deep, a favourite selection this past year from Got It Goin' On our #2 most played albums in all of '05! In all we have a full 30 minutes of music from our man Minucci, a small but hopefully suitable tribute to an outstanding musician!

Site: Chieli Minucci

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