Featuring the Smooth Groove of Today's Jazz!
This Week at CaféJazz.ca

May 14th, 2006
Edition #406 Previously Next

This week on Café Jazz, we have connected our regular two-hour program to the After Hours portion of the show as Bona Fide and Vince Mai appear during the show and then share billing on a special edition of our Then & Now. Other highlights include Michael O'Neill in our showcase spotlight and a Back Trax segment nothing short of incredible! Nonetheless, our continuing mission here at The Café remains to go boldly where no radio program has gone before, the strategy being to present music that is different and yet is true to the overall vibe. To that end, Brian Simpson, Annette, Steve Briody, Spyro Gyra, Four80East, Alan Hewitt, Ron Boustead, Brian Hughes, Gene Dunlap and Pieces of a Dream all contribute to the unique and refreshing flavour of this show!
In This Issue:

Funky Fiesta - Michael O'Neill

Easter Island - Russ Freeman
Stone Groove - David Mann
Forever Jung - Fogelberg & Weisberg
Magnolia Nights - Bill King
Blue Sky Day - Light of the World

AFTER HOURS: T&N Double Bill!
Bona Fide AND Vince Mai

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Showcase CD
Funky Fiesta - Michael O'Neill:
Michael O'Neill brings a lifetime of experience to the table in creating the blend of flavours presented on Funky Fiesta. O'Neill's first ever tour was with The Crusaders and Randi Crawford in 1979; he performed as a member of Stevie Wonder's band back in the early 80s; but most notable is the two-decade association he's enjoyed as George Benson's backup guitarist. In recent years, O'Neill has also had the chance to play for Natalie Cole and to play with a host of top Smooth Jazz artists, among them Boney James, Rick Braun, Peter White, Carl Anderson, Sheila E., Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, and Eric Marienthal. However, after 25 years in music and a pair of previous releases, O'Neill is finally set to break thru as a soloist in his own right with his third and latest release. Being of half-Latin descent, O'Neill's natural affinity for Latin based music is evident. However, it's when combining R&B and funky jazz elements with his inherent leanings that his unique style really blossoms!
Based in Los Angeles, O'Neill has earned a reputation as a guitarist's guitarist. Having played with many of the best in the business, turn about only seems fair. It's now O'Neill recruiting some of his favourite players who willingly contribute to making this his finest effort. With guest appearances from Everette Harp, Michael Lington, Airto, Nathan East, Gregg Karukas, Freddie Ravel, and Bobby Wells, the album provides some fabulous listening for music lovers with discerning tastes; not to mention, it's perfect our showcase feature.

Michael O'Neill & George Benson (1985)
Courtesy of Michael's Site
We begin with Once in Brazil, with Airto featured on percussion and Freddie Ravel on keys. Funky, rhythmic and smooth, I Wanna Grow opens hour two. Meanwhile we've reserved Yeah, That's It, as the closing track. Our favourite on the disc, there's no shortage of all-star talent on this one. Bobby Wells and Freddie Ravel on keys, Nathan East on bass, and Everette Harp with some inspired sax work all contribute to the tune. Nevertheless, it's O'Neill's scatting with some of the finest licks in the entire session that make this selection a winner and one of Michael's best efforts to date!

CD: Funky Fiesta
Label: Green Bean Records
Site: Michael O'Neill

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Back Trax: Part One
Easter Island - Russ Freeman :
For the past 20 years, Russ Freeman has led The Rippingtons, one of the seminal ensembles on the contemporary scene. However, a year prior to The Ripps' debut, the 25-year-old guitarist and producer had issued Nocturnal Playground. The rest is a matter of record as the success of that release paved the way for subsequent projects under The Rippingtons banner. In any event, we have one of the tracks that helped write the story as from 1986 and Nocturnal Playground we present Russ Freeman and Easter Island!

CD: Nocturnal Playground (1986)
Label: Brainchild Records
Site: Russ Freeman
Stone Groove - David Mann:
Whether you know it or not, you've probably heard David Mann's music before. The native of Ann Arbor Michigan was a diligent student of straight ahead jazz, before moving to a more modern blend. Just out of the New England Conservatory and fresh on the New York scene, David Mann launched his solo career in 1987. He spent a couple of years in the mid 90s as a member of the famed Tower Of Power horn section and in the past few years his name has appeared literally everywhere. His guest playing and his production expertise have graced releases for everyone from Nelson Rangell, Kim Waters, Steve Cole, and Pamela Williams, to Wayman Tisdale, Special EFX, Club 1600, and Matt Marshak. His 2001 Touch release showcased Mann's range of talents as a composer, producer, programmer, and as a player and was one of the finest albums of the year. Although he's been involved several other projects, Touch remains Mann's most recent solo release. Nevertheless, from that effort we have a great track called Stone Groove!

CD: Touch (2001)
Label: N-Coded Music
Site: David Mann

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Back Trax: Part Two
Forever Jung - Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg:
Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg first connected briefly in 1977 for work on Fogelberg's Nether Lands release. The following year Fogelberg, wishing to create a project unlike anything he'd previously recorded, invited Weisberg to join him for a full blown collaboration. The effort combined Fogelberg's background in folk and pop/rock with Weisberg's jazz sensibilities and resulted in a landmark release. With a cover photo of the two musicians looking like brothers with matching beards and long hair, the album was entitled Twin Sons Of Different Mothers.
The endeavour proved to be not only an artistic success, but also faired very well commercially. Nearly 20 years later, the pair reunited. Now short haired and clean-shaven it was clear there was "No Resemblance Whatsoever" between them. From that rewarding follow up, we have the fabulous Forever Jung!

CD: No Resemblance Whatsoever (1995)
Label: Giant Records
Site: Dan Fogelberg ; Tim Weisberg
Twin Sons of Different Mothers
Magnolia Nights - Bill King:
It's hard to imagine any aspect of the music scene that Bill King hasn't been a part of. From his work as a musician, composer, and publisher to his efforts as a record exec and photographer, from broadcaster and producer to his role as organizer for the Toronto Beaches International Jazz Festival, Bill King has done it all. In the process, King's has become one of the most recognizable names on the Canadian jazz scene. A native of Jeffersonville, Indiana, King won competitions in classical piano and clarinet en route to winning a scholarship to Oscar Peterson's Advanced School of Contemporary music, which he attended in 1963. By 1968, King had moved from Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan to Los Angeles to become music director and pianist for Linda Ronstadt.

A year later, he joined Janis Joplin's band in the same capacity before moving to Toronto in 1969. However, King he returned to LA in 1976 as the music director for Martha Reeves. After gigs with The Pointer Sisters and John Klemmer, King relocated to Toronto in the late 70s. Then in the 80s, King's career began to fire on all cylinders. After a stint with Ronnie Hawkins, he launched a record label, did some work a jazz broadcaster, co-founded The Jazz Report Magazine, and as the artistic director and emcee for the Beaches Festival, King he became a driving force in its success. In addition, he recorded several albums, and on this occasion, we revisited one of our favourite tracks, the moody and expressive title track from Magnolia Nights!

CD: Magnolia Nights (1989)
Label: Gaia Records
Site: Bill King/Beaches International
Blue Sky Day - Light of the World:
Although they've recorded only sporadically over the past 30 years, perhaps no other group better typified the British jazz-funk scene than Light of the World. Formed in London in 1978, the unit featured a full sound that would rival any act of the day on either side of the Atlantic and operated in that fabulous space between jazz, funk, and soul. The original personnel included David Baptiste and Kenny Wellington on trumpet, Jean Paul 'Bluey' Maunick and Neville McKreith on guitar as well as several other top funksters of the day. The band's debut single shook the UK dance floors but the release of their first LP was marred by the death of one their members during a promotional tour. Nevertheless, the band persevered and came back with an even expanded lineup for their subsequent release.

Creative differences contributed to a split in 1981. Baptiste & Wellington continued to work together in Beggar & Co., while Bluey & Peter Hind went on to form Incognito. 1982 and 1990 saw brief reunion projects that featured a slimmed down version of LOTW. In 1999, Wellington, Baptiste, and McKreith all original members reformed the band with Nate Augustin, from the second incarnation of the group and Frank Felix, later of Acoustic Alchemy, on bass rounding out the ensemble. The album Inner Voices was recorded and released later that the same year, and featured Camelle Hinds as guest vocalist. From that incredible outing we have the thoroughly uplifting Blue Sky Day!

CD: Inner Voices (1999)
Label: Sanctuary Music
Site: Light of the World/Soul Walking

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :

On this edition, we're going with another Then & Now double bill. First up is Bona Fide with 3 selections, one from each of their releases. The feature on Vince Mai follows shortly thereafter, and once again, we have a series of tracks representing some of the best from his three albums. Apart from that, fresh sounds take over as all but one of our remaining selections are new never-before-been-played-on-our-show tracks, 13 in all. Our line-up includes more from Pamela Williams, Steve Briody, and Steve Oliver; the latest from Wayman Tisdale, Everette Harp, Turning Point, and J. Thompson; and new to the show are Keefe Marzell, Voodoo Funk Project, and Skii, a swinging vocalist coming to us from Australia. Pieces of a Dream and Wilton Felder are with us; there's something as well from Matt Marshak and his new one called Groovosphere. Matter of fact we're starting with a track from that very release. It features David Mann on sax and is our pick to be one of the hottest tracks for the summer!

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Then & Now Spotlight Feature: Bona Fide

Royal Function
N-Coded Music

The Poe House
N-Coded Music

Soul Lounge
Heads Up

Bona Fide: Several years after an auspicious arrival, Bona Fide is still redefining the contemporary landscape. Back in the late 90s, band founder Tim "Slim Man" Camponeschi connected with a few friends in & around the Baltimore area.

Bona Fide Courtesy of Heads Up

Their debut release set a new standard, delivering a grittier & funkier brand of music. From that effort, High Street was a major hit; X Ray Hip gained favourably airplay, while the title track proved an unqualified masterpiece. In recognition, Slim and the boys were named the top new group in Smooth Jazz in 2001. What began as a trio with Joe Ercole on piano & keys and Kevin Levi on sax grew into an expanded lineup on The Poe House and has now evolved into five-piece combo. The current line up includes Slim Man on bass & production, George Hazelrigg on piano (filling in for Ercole) , drummer John E Coale, Howard Zizzi on percussion, & saxman Kevin Levi who remains a band member in spite of relocating to California.

With their current release, Bona Fide continues to push the envelope with their unique brand of jazz infused chill. Yet, even in briefly chronicling their recorded efforts, there is a wealth of diversity in their music. Our choices include High Street, the track that broke the Bona Fide sound while Club Charles and B. More Knights follow the latter features Joe Ercole as he takes a turn with the band. Three quality selections make for an excellent feature from one of the most innovative and distinctive bands in the contemporary format!

Site: Slim Man

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Then & Now Spotlight Feature: Vince Mai

For All We Know



Vince Mai: The Vancouver-based trumpeter first came to our attention back in about 1993 when he appeared with Kat Hendrix on Before the Rain. Mai's tone and playing on trumpet and flugelhorn were simply outstanding. He earned top marks for his work on that effort and naturally, we've watched developments in Vince's career with keen anticipation since then.

Photo: Vince in Italy
Courtesy of Mai-Music

Mai has been serving up his unique blend of smooth, Latin, and jazz on Canada's West Coast for several years. In addition to developing a reputation as a dynamic soloist, he's well known as a member of jazz and funk groups, and as a top call studio player throughout the Pacific Northwest, Mai's performance and recording credits include The Powder Blues Band, Natalie Cole, Eddie Daniels, Robben Ford, Tom Jones, and The Temptations, among many others. His trumpet and scores have been featured on numerous commercials, films, and on network television both in Canada and the US. His score for Diary of An Alien received a West Coast Music Award while his score for the movie Lola was featured at several film festivals including the Berlin International. Nevertheless, in the past five years or so, Mai's focus has gradually shifted to his career as a front man. For All We Know was his 2000 debut effort. That project was a collection of jazz classics and was dedicated to many of Mai's primary influences. However, many other styles made their way into Vince's subsequent releases.

Mai incorporated a veritable kaleidoscope of diverse worldly elements into Subte his 2002 release. Drawing inspiration from his travels throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas, while always filtering the results through his formation in jazz, Mai found a new & exciting direction. That has continued on MBand which finds Mai taking his music to another and might I add an exhilarating level! In any event, it's our pleasure to trace some of the highpoints in Vince's solo career. We've selected a track from each of his albums as the focus for the second half of our Then & Now double feature. First up is Triste with Tania Hancheroff on vocals and that's followed by Gecko and MHouse. If you're looking for music that's exciting and fresh, Vince Mai's music very nicely fills the bill!

Site: Vince Mai

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