August 27th, 2006
Edition #414 Next
Café Jazz Roars into Year Ten
Plenty of musical treasures waiting to be discovered on this first program of year ten … After a summer hiatus, Café Jazz returns ready as always to "spread the word" about the absolute best in music as we know it. All the while, there is hope; somehow, some way we're able to connect with like-minded individuals, those wishing to explore fresh new sounds that fall outside of a few limited selections played on commercial radio for what seems to be an eternity! So, if you're ready let's escape together. Here's who's waiting: Matt Marshak, Gregg Karukas, Michael Franks, Gene Dunlap, Oli Silk, Peter White, Steve Briody, Nils, Spyro Gyra, David Benoit, Boca, and ...
Ultrablue - Ultrablue:
The brain thrust behind Ultrablue is John Smatla, a producer and journeyman keyboardist whose resume includes playing for Quiet Riot. A few years ago, the classically trained pianist connected with Dave Stryker, an acclaimed jazz guitarist who had been leader on a dozen straight-ahead projects. Regardless of their diverse backgrounds, their talents meshed perfectly. After recruiting some of the leading players on the East Coast, among them David Mann, Rachel Z, and Pete Belasco, they released dusk 2 dawn, the debut album under the Ultrablue banner. In spite of the faltering label support, that release faired well, encouraging Smatla to finance a follow up project, the recently issued and self-titled Ultrablue. On the album, Smatla has taken the band to an entirely new level! Soul, R&B, jazz, and chill are fused skillfully to create a unique and sophisticated blend, as Smatla puts it "smooth jazz with a New York attitude."
|As main architect for the Ultrablue sound, Smatla wrote all but one track and produced the album; all while handling various keys and programming thruout. Back in the fold once again are Stryker and Mann while joining the ensemble are John Benitez, Philip Hamilton, and Romero LuBambo; several other "A-players" such as Nestor Torres, Gabriela Anders, Pete Belasco, and Randy Brecker, perform as special guests, resulting in an outing that is incredibly rich in its diversity and a creative masterpiece! On a personal note, in the process of producing Café Jazz, I've listened to a lot of music, yet seldom experienced the ambiance generated by Smatla and this cast of players. Accordingly, it's a pleasure to spotlight Ultrablue from Ultrablue; and although there's no shortage of favourites, for the purposes of the show case feature, I'm limiting myself to three tracks. I know you're gonna love'em all!
|Fresh Trax: Part One
Life - David Boswell:
David Boswell must have been born with music in his blood! Whether it was his mother, who loved to play all day, or his father, an accomplished classical pianist who was constantly rehearsing, there was always music in the air at the Boswell household! In elementary school, David took up French horn but soon discovered his passion in guitar through an unlikely combination of influences that included The Beatles and Johnny Cash. Later still, jazz drew his attention as Boswell studied with some of the genre's finest players, Pat Metheny, & Dave Holland being on that list. Always fascinated by tunings and string types, Boswell uses these in combination with different guitars to create a variety of aural textures. Hold Tight to Your Dreams was his excellent debut in 2005, with Bridge of Art as the recently released follow up. The new album shows a further honing of Boswell's already prodigious chops as well as enough substance to satisfy even the most discerning listener. From that effort, we have the superb lead single entitled Simple Life.
CD: Bridge of Art
Label: My Quiet Moon Records
Site: David Boswell
the Cat - Greg Adams:
Over the course of a nearly four-decade career, Greg Adams' contributions have been integral to the ever-changing climate in pop music. Straight out of high school and in lieu of attending Berklee in Boston, Adams joined Tower of Power as a founding member. During his tenure, Greg was a guiding force for the band, which sold millions of albums and whose signature horn arrangements set the standard in the realm of R&B. Grammy and Emmy nominated, Adams has recorded and/or performed with many of the biggest names in the business: Santana, B.B. King, Rod Stewart, & Elton John.
With Cool to the Touch,which is Greg's fourth and latest solo release, the veteran horn player once again captures the sort of magic that has epitomized his career, yet the overall vibe is very much a reflection of the present. Several selections rank among Greg's finest efforts ever. The album opener which is entitled Felix the Cat, is a great example. It's melodic, funky, and smooth and it's powered by an unparalleled sax section that includes Richard Elliot as well as Boney James, Eric Marienthal, and Mindi Abair! With Cool to the Touch, Adams positively reaffirms his voice as vital to the contemporary scene!
CD: Cool to the Touch (The review:)
Label: Ripa Records
Site: Adams ; Ripa
|Fresh Trax: Part Two
Around - Ray Garand:
Ray's been active as a musician since his early teens growing up in Saskatchewan. Back in the mid 80s Garand relocated to Canada's West Coast where he's been involved in various aspects of recording, producing and engineering; that's in addition to his session and studio work. Ray has recorded with some of Vancouver's top contemporary players among them Gabriel Mark Hasselbach. In the late 90s, Ray fulfilled a long time ambition when he set up his own studio. The result was a pair of exceptional solo projects wherein Garand played all instruments; that in conjunction with another release in between that was recorded in collaboration with Steve Werbicki.
Well it's been four long years since we last heard something new from Mr. Garand, but the wait is over. Garand's long anticipated fourth release is finally here! It's called Skylark and I must admit it's another gem. Our first early listens revealed Stay Around, an absolute must play and a selection that rates as one of the finest from the man that I teasingly refer to as the best unknown guitarist that I know of!
- Paolo Rustichelli:
Rustichelli's previous release was a compilation based on various soundtracks he had composed and was issued in 2004. Otherwise, it's been many years since we last heard from the multi-talented Italian keyboardist; his most recent project of originals being Mystic Man back in '96 for which Carlos Santana was executive producer. After a long ten-year absence, Paolo is back with Neopagan, on which he continues to explore many unique & creative cinematic soundscapes. Now, upon hearing our featured selection, you may be fooled into thinking Santana is also involved with this latest project; it certainly sounds as though it's Carlos and his distinctive guitar that we're listening to. Guess again! It's actually Rustichelli perfectly imitating the sound & style of the acclaimed guitarist on a track that's undeniably exquisite!
Label: Next Age Music
- Alan Hewitt:
Hewitt is an alumnus of Berklee in Boston and although he began in music on drums, somewhere along the way he switched to keys. In spite of the fact that Alan has achieved considerable recognition as a platinum-award winning composer for film & TV, for the most part, his career has been devoted to backing a wide variety of artists, all the way from Earth Wind & Fire to Donnie Osmond. Prior to his past release as The Alan Hewitt Project, he had issued several albums, primarily in the area of New Age. Now building on the success enjoyed by Noche de Pasion, an album which received numerous accolades and which was recognized on our own in house list of most played release in 2004, Hewitt has just released Metropolis. After repeated listens, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find Mr. Hewitt's name again near the top of that same list for 2006. As proof, we offer Joyride, the first single to radio and a track highlighted by the sax work of Gerald Spikes.
Label: 215 Records
|After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site :
|On this edition,
we're featuring the music of Matt Marshak, past & present, as Matt steps
into our Then & Now spotlight. We have a track from each of Matt's three
releases, and that's about 20 minutes in. In the meantime, the continuation
of a tradition, as we play music that is totally new to the show. We're
delving into releases from, this is quite a lengthy list, Marion Meadows,
Everette Harp, Wayman Tisdale, Bobby Lyle, Nestor Torres, Oli Silk, J
Thompson, and Jack Prybylski, meanwhile there's more from Shilts, Richard
Elliot, Steve Oliver, 2AZZ1, and Chris Standring. We have the latest single
from Jonathan Butler, brand new music by (another lengthy list) Joyce
Cooling, The Rippingtons, The Jazzmasters, Lisa Hilton, Torcuato Mariano,
Fourplay, and Lee Ritenour.
We're not quite done yet though as there's something new as well from Ricardo Scales, Will Donato, Boney James, and Michael Lington, while we're also introducing Stephen Pfister, Larry Antonino, and Bakithi Kumalo, who happens to appear on a Matt Marshak track (see below). Finally, the Jason Miles project To Grover with Love released a few years ago, has been reissued and as a bit of a special we've included a track from that featuring Jay Beckenstein. Listen for that in our very first set. And to begin we have what else but a brand new track, this time from Patrick Yandall and the just released Samoa Soul. In all, a total of 30-brand-new-and-never-before-been-played-on-our-show tracks on a program that comes in at just over 140 minutes of virtually uninterrupted music in two parts … just for you!
Then & Now Spotlight Artist: Matt Marshak
Matt Marshak: Even though he's been "on the scene" for only brief period, Matt Marshak has already made a significant impact in the smooth jazz arena. Within five short years, the Long Island native has laid the groundwork for a highly promising career, having issued three superior solo releases while garnering an avid and ever-increasing worldwide fan base. He appears poised for stardom, even more surprising given the fact he didn't take up guitar until the age of 17. Initially it was some of the blues and rock greats, artists such as Hendrix, BB King, and Satriani, who drew Matt attention. However, after discovering contemporary jazz, the sounds of Larry Carlton and George Benson provided new inspiration. In fact, it was after meeting Carlton, that Marshak in a moment of self-realization fully understood that contemporary jazz was his calling in life. Then, as if to "make up for lost time", he would sometimes practice 10 hours a day while taking up to three lessons per week!
Subsequently, Matt released This Time Around, an album which frankly floored us here at The Café and which received airplay around the world. Several tracks became immediate favourites and by year-end, the cd was among our top ten most played albums for 2004. With Groovosphere, his third and latest release, the budding promise that Marshak's exhibited has clearly come into bloom. This one has it all, funky rhythms, hip jazzy melodies, and unadulterated energy and passion! The man has arrived, and although still early, Marshak's name is a cinch to appear again on our most played in house list, this time for 2006! Therefore, as we spotlight Matt Marshak past and present, let's add to some of those spins right now shall we. From Preservation, there's the smoothed out groove of Friday Afternoon. The tempo kicks into another gear with I Will Be with You from our #9 album for 2004; you'll want to check the sax work of Mario Cruz and Bakithi Kumalo's bass lines on this one. Then just when you thought the energy level couldn't get more intense, we have one of the year's top songs in Summerfunk done by one of today's most dynamic players. With pleasure, we give you Matt Marshak, Then & Now!
Site: Marshak ; Nuance