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

May 21st, 2006
Edition #407 Previously Next

This program's a blast! Just check what we have lined up this time out! Gene Cannon's Soul Dances Showcased and the Fresh Trax feature provide a knock out combination! Many of these selections will doubtless make our end of the year most played list. Yet others have made that list in past years; tracks from Boney James & Rick Braun, Les Sabler, Gregg Karukas, Steve Cole, Queen Latifah, and Special EFX.. Everyone's telling you how great their music mix is. You be the judge. And, if you're at all passionate about what you listen to, you may discover that Café Jazz is the ideal radio show for you!
In This Issue:

Soul Dances - Gene Cannon

Cruzin' - Wilton Felder
Summerfunk - Matt Marshak
Shiver - Ultrablue
Holding Back The Years - Simply Red
Rejuvination - Pamela Williams

Then & Now Patrick Yandall

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Showcase CD
Soul Dances - Gene Cannon:
Cannon began playing sax at the age of nine and studied on the instrument throughout his school days. Following a stint at the University of South Florida, the Tampa native spent the next fifteen years with a local band called Solution. During that period, Gene did it all; he played sax, flute and keyboards for the band, while doubling as their manager. From there, he pursued a variety of free-lance projects: the Tony Little Workout Video, commercials for HSN & ESPN, as well as performing at home games for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. All the while, studio work was steady. However, over the past number of years Cannon's focus has gradually shifted so that now his career is literally set to take off! He's become an integral part of Tampa's burgeoning music scene, performing actively on his own and with Tampa-based artists such as Allon Sams and Les Sabler. He's also played on their albums and recently scored a credit on Paul Brown's The City.
Gene has gone on to open for and share the stage with many prominent players, among them George Benson, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Gregg Karukas, Special EFX, Rick Braun, Peter White, Paul Brown, and The Rippingtons. Nonetheless, the most significant happening in Gene's career has been the recent release of Soul Dances, an album that he has essentially been working toward for most of his life, as it's his solo debut. Those closest to him, inspired the project; and it was Beth, Gene's wife, who gave him the idea for the title. Beth would often say she could see Gene's soul dance whenever he played. One listen to the music on this record and you know she was right! This is a sax lover's cd filled with catchy melodies and heart-felt playing. More importantly, it's a music lover's album with plenty of style and substance. Making guest appearances on the disc are top local talents; a list that includes Ruben Drake on bass, Mic Smith on trumpet, John Mayeux & TFOXX both of whom appear on guitar, while Allon Sams, who produced the album, also handles the keys.
Cannon at a WSJT Event
Courtesy of Gene's site.
As for Gene, well I've said it before, but this man provides full value for each & every note. As such, hopefully you'll understand when I say, it's a genuine pleasure to showcase Gene Cannon and Soul Dances! As usual, we're offering a trio of tracks that represent some of the best on the album. To begin there's Outside The Box, a tune co-penned by long-time friend Brad Trumbull which features the guitar work of Les Sabler. That's What You Do launches our second hour; while the album opener called Livin' Life has been reserved for the finale! It seems this tune more than any other, captures the spirit of the record and Gene's love of music and life. Consequently, it's a perfect way to cap the feature! And, if I might be permitted, all the while Cannon's soul is dancing, well, we're right there with him!

CD: Soul Dances
Label: CanMan Music
Site: Gene Cannon ; Allon Sams

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Cruzin' - Wilton Felder :
As a founding member of The Jazz Crusaders, Wilton Felder spent over 30 years with the band. In the mid-'50s Felder, Joe Sample, and Stix Hooper were still in high school when they began playing together; Wayne Henderson joined the group soon after. In the late 50s they all moved to LA and by 1961 they were playing a hard bop style and recording as The Jazz Crusaders. Felder continued as a member thru until the late 80s, a period that encompassed a change in name to The Crusaders and a corresponding shift in styles to a more R&B oriented sound.

During this time, Felder also launched his solo career. Although he exhibited several flashes of brilliance, for the most part these projects were overshadowed by his work with The Crusaders. Nevertheless, Let's Spend Some Time his latest release and first in over a dozen years, is a particularly strong outing! Felder has credentials to spare, and although he surrounds himself with a slew of top shelf players, on this release he leaves no doubt as to his own star qualities. The vibe on the album is funky and smooth, with several outstanding tracks. One piece in particular that should belong on anyone's list of favourites is Cruzin', on which Felder & George Shaw bounce sax & trumpet respectively off one another. Exceptional to say the least! Wilton Felder definitely has got it all happening on this album and we'll be revisiting it often.

CD: Let's Spend Some Time
Label: BSC Records
Summerfunk - Matt Marshak :
It was only a couple of years ago that we were struck by Matt Marshak's music. This brilliant & gifted musician had just won the best new smooth jazz artist award for NYC and subsequently, he had released This Time Around, his sophomore album. Several of the tracks became immediate favourites and by year-end the cd was among our top ten most played albums in 2004. I can recall describing Marshak's style as fresh & creative; that he exemplified a fantastic new breed of player emerging in contemporary music; and that if this was where the contemporary scene was headed then I could hardly wait until we got there. Flash forward to the present and Matt has just issued Groovosphere. Judging from many of the tracks this man has indeed arrived. Rest assured we'll be going to this release often and sampling the exceptional selections contained therein. In any event, among our favourites on this fabulous disc is Summerfunk, the lead single and a tune that is our unequivocal pick as one of the top tracks for the summer of '06!

CD: Groovosphere
Label: Nuance Music Group
Site: Matt Marshak

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
Shiver - Ultrablue:
The year 2003 introduced the sound of Ultrablue, the brainchild of producer John Smatla. A couple of years earlier, the classically trained pianist had connected with guitarist Dave Stryker. Smatla was a journeyman keyboardist whose resume included playing for Quiet Riot, while Stryker was an acclaimed jazz guitarist who had been leader on a dozen straight-ahead projects. In spite of their diverse backgrounds and with the aid of an all-star cast, they contrived a cool & sensual blend of styles that resulted in the Ultrablue debut entitled Dusk 2 Dawn. In spite of faltering label support, the album faired well, encouraging Smatla to finance a follow up project, the self-titled Ultrablue cd, which has just been issued. For the most part, Smatla has taken the band to an entirely new level as quite honestly I've never heard anything like it before, a great release! From that effort, we have Shiver the advance single, but rest assured there will be hearing much more from Ultrablue and this release in the weeks ahead!

CD: Ultrablue
Label: 215 Records
Holding Back The Years - Simply Red:
The band Simply Red grew out of the remnants of a punk group called The Frantic Elevators. Although they were in existence for seven years, The Frantic Elevators met with limited success. In 1984, after that band's demise, Mick Hucknall assembled a few Manchester players, and used his nickname for the group that he subsequently formed. Their Picture Book debut, released the following year, featured Money's Too Tight (To Mention), which proved to be a hit in the UK. However, it was a re-make of Holding Back the Years, a Hucknall original that his former band had recorded a few years earlier that topped the U.S. charts. The single caused the album to go platinum, and made Simply Red a household name. Although the band went on to sell millions more, Holding Back The Years remains the track with which they are most identified. Now 20 years later, Hucknall reworks that classic on Simplified. The new version stripped-down and stylish sounds as good as, if not better than the original!

CD: Simplified
Label: Verve Forecast
Site: Simply Red
Rejuvination - Pamela Williams:
Elixir is her new one and with it, Pamela Williams has created another masterpiece. The new project matches Williams' talents with those of saxman David Mann. This marks the third occasion the two have collaborated thus continuing the strong tradition established on The Perfect Love, Pam's Shanachie Records debut and continued on Sweet Saxations. While Mann contributes some awesome textures on keys and produces three of the tracks, it's abundantly clear, it's William's own flair for weaving magical melodies that makes this album a winner! As evidence, we offer Rejuvination, a tune that's quickly become an all-time Williams favourites. Pam wrote and produced the track, as she continues to develop that aspect of her musicality. In addition she plays all instruments, but it's her sax work that best illustrates the scope of her genius. Subtle, sensual, & sophisticated, Pam's style is all her own! Say what you will about any of the gifted sax players out there, Pamela Williams' name rightfully belongs among the very best in the genre. This latest album, once again rather convincingly confirms that above all else Ms Williams is indeed the first lady of sax!

CD: Elixir
Label: Shanachie
Site: Pamela Williams

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :
On this edition, Patrick Yandall steps into the spotlight on Then & Now. We've taken a track from each of the Yandall's solo releases, so that's 6 in all and that's coming up in about 20 minutes in. To take us thru, we have fresh selections. Brand new to the show are Keith Jacobson and Jeffery B. Suttles, meanwhile there's more from Steve Oliver and Rick Braun as we explore their recent releases. Nelson Rangell and Tom Schuman are here as are Ultrablue; we played them a bit earlier on Fresh Trax, even so I thought it would be nice to hear another tune from that release. Also in our total of nine-new-and-never-before-been-played-on-our-show tracks we have music from Adrian Conington and David Boswell, so I know you'll want to stay with us for those as they're coming up just after the PY feature!
Then & Now Spotlight Feature: Patrick Yandall

That Feels Nice!

A Lasting Embrace

Of Two Cities
Zangi Records

Back to the Groove
Zangi Records

From the Ashes
Apria Records

Eyes of Mars
Apria Records

Patrick Yandall: It was very early in the new millennium that Yandall's music first came to our attention here at The Café, the year 2000 to be precise. It was around then that Of Two Cities was released, that already being Patrick's 3rd cd. Smooth Jazz radio was giving Marcus St. from the disc some serious spins. When Back to the Groove came out a couple of years later, our own show was just starting to take off, in Toronto and on the internet. Although I was still an upstart in the worldly world of Smooth Jazz, I felt emboldened by our modest success and contacted Patrick. He sent me a copy of his new cd, recorded a few intros for our show, and thus made it easy for us to play and support his music.

Photo Courtesy of Yandall.com
This planted the seed. I reached out, adding a pair of previous releases to bolster our PY library. With the issue of From The Ashes in 2003, all the pieces were nicely in place for a Then & Now feature devoted to Patrick's music. That was just over a year ago; the segment consisted of tracks from four cds. The release of Eyes of Mars was imminent, so the only glaring omission was Patrick's very first release.

In any event, with Eyes of Mars, Yandall presented the music world with what to date is his crowning achievement. I've written much on this fantastic release in the past so I won't dwell on that at this time. Suffice it to say, the album became an absolute favourite, making our own in house list for most played in 2005 and shortly thereafter, it was also added it to our "indispensable list", music that in our humble opinion true aficionado's of the genre just can't live without!

Furthermore, with the issue of Eyes of Mars, it seemed fairly obvious that the time was indeed right for a second PY Then & Now feature. However, I was not about to make the same mistake twice! So with Patrick's assistance, we're able to present music from all six releases, including that 1992 solo debut. And, so as to give some idea of Yandall's breadth of talent and scope as an artist, we've selected an entirely new batch of tracks for the feature. In order, the selections are Mars (dedicated to Patrick's wife), Bailey's Dream, and Mt. Pleasant from the first three albums. The Joy of You and First Dance follow; by the way, that's Jason Weber on sax on the latter. Meanwhile Eyes of Mars the title track wraps up the second set and fittingly caps off the segment. Six exceptional selections complete with terrific melodies, wonderful instrumentation, and fabulous tone! I have a very strong feeling, you're not only gonna love 'em all, you'll want even more!

Site: Patrick Yandall

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