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

April 23rd, 2006
Edition #404 Previously Next

We have another terrific line up starting Nick Colionne & his new release called Keepin' It Cool. We'll give you a bit background about Nick and his career and mix in a few selected tracks from that album, all as part of the show case feature. In hour two, the biweekly Back Trax segment takes over with a few past favourites . George Benson, Rick Braun, and Warren Hill provide today's highlights as Max Groove & Daryl Stuermer round out the feature. Apart from that, there's music from Gregg Karukas, Matt Dusk, Richard Elliott, 3rd Force, Eric Darius, U-Nam, Donald Fagen, Euge Groove, and Pamela Williams. You'll hear these and more and more, only on Café Jazz, the champagne of smooth jazz listening!
In This Issue:

Keepin' It Cool - Nick Colionne

This Masquerade - George Benson
Eleuthera - Max Groove
Night Walk - Rick Braun
Tell Me All Your Secrets - Warren Hill
Urban Island - Daryl Stuermer

AFTER HOURS: T&N Double Bill!
Michael O'Neill AND Allon Sams

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Showcase CD
Keepin' It Cool - Nick Colionne:

Nick Colionne is a Chicago native who grew up surrounded by jazz. He began guitar at age nine under the tutelage of his stepfather but by fifteen, he was already playing professionally. Because he was often the youngest member in the band, Nick would sometimes paint on a mascara moustache to make himself look just a bit older. For a time he played rock and R&B and then moved up through the ranks as he enjoyed stints with the Impressions and Natalie Cole, gigs which took Nick all over the world. In addition, Paul Anka and Johnnie Mathis both recorded some of Nick's compositions. In the course of events, Colionne returned to jazz, and eventually went solo. He released a well-received debut in '94 with subsequent projects following in '96 and '99. However, in spite of a small but avid following, the albums failed to break on a broad scale. Consequently, Nick thought he might be relegated to playing sideman gigs for a good part of his career.
Nevertheless, that all changed in 2004 with Just Come On In, his 4th release that allowed Colionne to crack the contemporary scene as a major player while scoring one of the biggest hits for the year with High Flyin'. I'm pleased to say, we here at Café Jazz were among the first to jump on that one in a big way and hopefully we played some small part in its great success. In any event, with that project still fresh in everyone's mind, Nick is back with Keepin' It Cool and it appears he's picked up exactly where he left off with his previous release. The album is right up there with it's predecessor providing some of Colionne's finest work to date and it's a treat to share some of these with you today.
Courtesy of Nick's Site
Therefore,it's with pleasure that we place Nick Colionne and Keepin' it Cool in our spotlight, and as is the custom, we've selected a trio of terrific tracks, I think you're going love them all! To begin, we have an easy tune called This Is The Song. Colionne's fluid guitar lines are front & centre on this one as they caress the melody. Nick's current hit single, the smooth as silk Always Thinking of You, nicely kicks off our second hour while Can You Feel It is reserved for our closer. On the latter selection, solid bass runs from Richard Patterson and in the pocket percussion by Lenny Castro help make this track a standout! You know, given a bit more time to come to a fuller appreciation of quality of the music & the calibre of musicianship, this album may well represent Nick's finest over all effort to date!

CD: Keepin' It Cool
Label: Narada Jazz
Site: Nick Colionne

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Back Trax: Part One
This Masquerade - George Benson :
George Benson is an expert improviser and vibrant entertainer who is appreciated both as a musician and as performer. As a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, Benson honed his skills and talents, by singing, dancing, and playing ukulele while performing in nightclubs. As his career unfolded, he enjoyed the opportunity to play with "some of the baddest jazz cats on the planet' as he puts it, but his desire to entertain never changed and that is what George Benson says he's really all about. In 1964, Benson released his debut as The New Boss Guitar, a play on Wes Montgomery's Boss Guitar, which he considered one of his finest records. Hooking up with the CTI label in 1970, Benson had a series of releases that further fuelled his reputation, but after a while, he wanted to try out something new.

It wasn't until he connected with Tommy LiPuma that Benson received any encouragement or support and we all know what happened after that. The result was Breezin', the first jazz record to attain platinum sales. Released in 1976, the disc provided the instantly recognizable title track but it was the album's least representative track that propelled it to #1 on the pop charts. It was Benson's soulful take on Leon Russell's "This Masquerade", which unveiled the guitarist scatting along with his solo break. In the process, it ushered a completely new era in contemporary music and so, it's with pleasure, that we present this seminal track in smooth jazz!

Note: This radio edit appeared on the 2001, 25th anniversary reissue of Breezin'!

CD: Breezin' (1976)
Label: Warner Bros.
Site: George Benson
Eleuthera - Max Groove:
Hailing from Kansas City with a career that dates back to 1981, Max Groove can genuinely be considered a pioneer in contemporary jazz. Noted for combining the passion and focus of a classically trained artist with the sensitivity of a great songwriter, Groove does it all within an innovative jazz framework. The result is an irresistible blend of melody and emotion that transcends much of today's more mundane fair. Groove enjoyed a series of well-received releases through the late 80s and 90s but with the ever-changing climate in commercial radio, he's been conspicuously silent for some time. Nevertheless, we have a simply fantastic track from what remains as his most recent release. From It's A Beautiful day from 2001, we have Max Groove and Eleuthera, a track named for an island in the Bahamas and one of Groove's finest!

CD: It's A Beautiful Day (2001)
Label: Orpheus Music
Site: Max Groove

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Back Trax: Part Two
Night Walk - Rick Braun:
It was 1977, when Braun left home to attend the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. However, he never completed his term since the band he was with, was offered a record deal; so later that same year Rick ended up driving across the US to LA. He recorded a recorded a pair of projects with Auracle and did a variety of sideman gigs before connecting with the group War in the mid-80s. He toured with them, wrote the pop hit Here With Me for REO Speedwagon, his first big success in music, and then enjoyed an eighteen month stint as a member of Rod Stewart's band. He released his solo debut in 1993, but it was shortly thereafter that he got a gig as the trumpeter for Sade on her "Love Deluxe" tour. That proved to a pivotal point in his career as his subsequent album saw a huge change in the style & substance of his music; some have described it as an instrumental version of Sade. In any event, we're heading back to that release, Night Walk from 1994 and it's fantastic title track!

CD: Night Walk (1994)
Label: Bluemoon
Site: Rick Braun
Tell Me All Your Secrets - Warren Hill:
The Toronto-born sax player began playing guitar at the age of eight and by his teens, he was fronting his own rock group as well as handling vocals. Initially, Hill picked up the sax in order to play in his high school band. Following a summer program at the Eastman School of Music, he became hooked on jazz and the instrument soon became his focus. While studying physics at the University of Toronto, Hill played a variety of weekend gigs at some of the local clubs. Eventually, he chose to drop out of his course of studies in order to pursue music on a full time basis.

Following a stint at Berklee in Boston, Hill took part in a session with Chaka Khan. Shortly after, he relocated to LA, and after submitting a demo, he landed a record deal releasing his debut in 1991. He backed Natalie Cole on tour before his 1993 sophomore album spawned the chart-topping hit, The Passion Theme, which was featured in the film Body of Evidence. In the time between that album and his next, Hill married and moved to Nashville. This change in climate proved quite favourable as Hill's subsequent release yielded Tell Me All Your Secrets. The track is highlighted by Hill's patented fiery passion and by some tasty guitar work from Dan Huff. It remains a personal favourite and one of Hill's most positive and romantic efforts to date!

CD: Truth (1994)
Label: RCA/BMG
Site: Warren Hill
Urban Island - Daryl Stuermer:
Daryl Stuermer was self-taught on guitar and as a teen he was drawn to the complexities & challenges of jazz guitar; fusion artists such as Larry Coryell and John McLaughlin became major influences. In 1975, George Duke recommended Stuermer to Jean-Luc Ponty who was on the look out for a guitarist. Daryl won the audition and at age 22, he accompanied Ponty on a world tour. He ended up recording four albums with the acclaimed jazz violinist before connecting with Mike Rutherford of Genesis in 1977. This began a 20-year association with Genesis that in turn led to Daryl's selection for Phil Collins' band in 1982.

In between his work with Genesis and The Phil Collins Band, Stuermer began writing and working on his own music. Although he issued his debut in 1988, it was ten long years between releases for the Milwaukee-native so in that respect 1998's Live and Learn marked a "re-launch" of Daryl's solo career. Although primarily based in fusion, the music shows a diversity of influences all while Stuermer demonstrates his dexterity at a variety of styles. From that effort, we've chosen the motivated lead track, which also lent its name to Stuermer's record label. In addition to Stuermer's inspired guitar work, Lee Sklar on bass, Mark Torroll on drums, and Kostia on keys all contribute to the vitality of the selection!

CD: Live and Learn (1998)
Label: Urban Island Music
Site: Daryl Stuermer

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :

For only the second time, we're presenting a Then & Now double bill. We tried this a few weeks back and it seemed to work out well. Some established performers have been around for years and have created substantial volumes of music. However, our mantra has always been to support artists who may not be as well known, so that's what we're doing! First up is Michael O'Neill with three selections, one from each of his releases and that's immediately followed by an Allon Sams feature. Once again, we have a series of tracks representing each of Allon's three albums. Fresh sounds take over after that, as the remaining selections are new never-before-been-played-on-our-show tracks, seven in all. Our line-up includes Bob Baldwin, Ron Boustead, Gene Cannon and Gene Dunlap. We have Pieces of a Dream, Jill Jensen's on the show, and there's something from Keep on Talkin', Steve Briody's very impressive sophomore release!

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Then & Now Spotlight Feature: Michael O'Neill

True Love
Creatchy Prod.

Never Too Late

Funky Fiesta
Green Bean

Michael O'Neill: Over the course of a lengthy career, Michael O'Neill has secured a reputation as one of the best sidemen in the business and in the process; he's travelled the world many times over. His first ever tour was with The Crusaders and Randi Crawford back in 1979. He performed as a member of Stevie Wonder's band back in the early 80s and then since about 1982 right until the present, O'Neill has toured almost nonstop with George Benson. In recent years, he also had the chance to play for Natalie Cole and play with a host of top Smooth Jazz artists, everyone from Boney James and Rick Braun, to Gerald Albright and Michael Lington.

The Funky Fiesta Five: (L to R) Oscar Seaton, David Garfield, Alphonso Johnson, Michael O'Neill,
and Freddie Ravel ~ Courtesy of Michael's Site
In spite of being on everyone's A-list of studio players, O'Neill's love of the creative process & his enjoyment of playing with a variety of top musicians, spurred him to embark on a solo career a few years back. His debut was released in 1997 on David Garfield's Creatchy Records label and his sophomore effort followed a few years later. However, it was five full years between that and his subsequent project.

Nonetheless, with three excellent solo releases to his credit, the time seemed right to place Michael himself in our spotlight for a Then & Now feature devoted to his own music. Consequently and very appropriately, we've selected a track from each of his albums.

Over the course of his recorded efforts, O'Neill assembled an impressive cast of players having recruited the stellar accompaniment of, among others, David Garfield, Gregg Karukas, and Everette Harp with Freddie Ravel, and it's these musicians that are featured on the tracks that we've selected. In order, they are Again and Again, Never Too Late, and Yeah That's It from the above albums respectively!

Site: Michael O'Neill

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Then & Now Spotlight Feature: Allon Sams

Maestro Madness

A Place In Time
Blue Water Records

Music and Laughter
Maestro Madness Music

Allon Sams: Although he may not have as of yet received wide airplay in the US, Allon Sams has long been a Café Jazz favourite and in my humble opinion, he is a tremendous talent who definitely deserves much broader recognition. I first heard Allon's music a few years back in about 1999. Around that time, Dusk to Dawn from Sams' solo debut received a fair degree of airplay on WSJT in Tampa FL. That exposure gained Sams many new & enthusiastic followers including yours truly; lucky me, I was vacationing in the area at the time. Through the marvel of the internet, we were able to connect a couple of years later, when Sams developed his site; I've been an avid fan, eagerly tracking developments in Allon's career ever since!

Photo: Sams "Feelin' It"!

For a time in the late 80s and early 90s, Sams relocated to Los Angeles after he was offered an internship with Josef Zawinul, the leader of Weather Report. In the course of things, Sams met Grammy-winning producer Paul Brown and soon he was collaborating with Peter White, Boney James, David Sanborn, & John Klemmer, among others. Although he spent seven years in the glitter capitol, Sams desire to start a family and to be near his own parents made him decide to return to Tampa in the mid-90s. It didn't take Sams long to set up Studio A, his own production facility and launch his solo career.

Now, you've frequently heard Sams' name on our show in connection with Studio A. (Please check out the show notes feature from Sept.20, 2003 The Clearwater/Tampa Connection.)

Over the past few years, Sams has been integral to many albums that we've featured, from those of Les Sabler and TFOXX, to Gene Cannon and José Valentino. In this regard, Sams has for the most part been content to work behind the scenes. However, this time out it's the man himself in our spotlight, as we have fantastic selections from Sams and each of his three solo releases. Distant Rain starts the set with Gene Cannon on sax. Feelin' It from A Place In Time follows, that's with Peter White on guitar and Gene Cannon once again on sax. Finally, That's My Time with some totally tasty guitar courtesy of John Mayeux, rounds out the feature. Now if you're not a Sams fan already, I'm certain you will be after hearing this infectious trifecta!

Site: Allon Sams

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