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This Week at CaféJazz.ca

January 7th, 2007
Edition #429 Previously Next

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7th Annual: The Best of 2006 - Part 1
Our first show in '007 marks our 7th annual review of all the finest selections from the year just passed. In addition to the selections noted in the highlights section, Part 1 in this three part Best Of series includes David Benoit, Fourplay, Oli Silk, The Rippingtons, Vince Madison, Brookville, Shilts, Paolo Rustichelli, Chris Korblein, & Lisa Hilton!

Broadcaster of the Year?
The 3rd Annual Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards will be held Friday April 27, 2007 in Hammerson Hall at The Living Arts Centre, Mississauga Ontario; yours truly has been nominated in the broadcaster category!
In This Issue:

What Does It Take ... - Peter White
Spring Lake - David Stellmach
The Lowdown - Spyro Gyra
The Sunrise - Jeffery B. Suttles
Vinoy Park - TFOXX
Nuno - Vince Mai

AFTER HOURS : More of The Best

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Highlights Hour One
What Does It Take (to win your love) - Peter White:

For years, Peter White's penchant for exploring music from his adolescence has led lucky listeners on a journey of rediscovery. On record, White's inimitable interpretations began with What's Going On, the quintessential Marvin Gaye classic covered on the 1993 Promenade cd. The following year saw the issue of the aptly named Reflections release with a full album's worth of similar material. Although he's continued to record in that vein, with here and there a treasure from the past, it was over a dozen years after the initial sessions, that White happened across a few outtakes and in so doing stumbled upon almost a complete album's worth of material. Whipping back into the studio and enlisting the aid of top producer Paul Brown, Peter finished recordings Playin' Favorites. Richard Elliot and Rick Braun contributed to the project, while another old friendship was renewed. Making a guest appearance on What Does It Take, Peter's cover of the old Junior Walker hit from 1969, is saxman Sam Riney, whom White had not seen since the Reflections cd 12 years earlier!

CD: Playin' Favorites
Label: Columbia
Site: Peter White

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Spring Lake - David Stellmach:
Although highly gifted as a pianist and composer, David Stellmach initially pursued a Bachelor's in Journalism and later earned a Master's in Occupational Therapy. Stellmach's father was an avid jazz fan who nurtured his son's love of music while introducing him to the sounds of Dave Brubeck. Early on, Genesis, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer and other progressive bands of the 70's influenced Stellmach's direction; subsequently, the works of Keith Jarrett helped mould his style. Stellmach released Piano Solos, his debut, in the year 2000. Unfortunately, the release went relatively unnoticed, that is with the possible exception of Rendezvous Records who wisely selected the incredible Spring Lake for the second offering in their "Lounge" series!

CD: Rendezvous Lounge 2
Label: Rendezvous Records
The Lowdown - Spyro Gyra:
The release of Wrapped in A Dream in 2006 marked a milestone for the veteran band Spyro Gyra as they celebrated the 30th anniversary of their formation! Founded & fronted by Jay Beckenstein, the band has maintained a position at the forefront of the contemporary scene, likely due in no small part to the creative chemistry enjoyed by Beckenstein and keyboardist Tom Schuman, the only other original member. Now after 24 albums this inspired partnership remains in tact while long-time members Julio Fernandez on guitars and Scott Ambush on bass each appear on their 17th and 11th albums respectively. Newcomers Josh Dion and Ludwig Alfonzo on drums together with alumnus Dave Samuels on Marimba, round out the sound of the combo. From Wrapped in a Dream, we're featuring a Jeremy Wall composition, a hip piece called The Lowdown. The track features a rather slick exchange between Beckenstein on sax, Fernandez on guitar, and guest Nathan Eklund on trumpet.

In recognition of their long-standing contribution, Beckenstein and Spyro Gyra were recently named the 2007 recipients of the Canadian Smooth Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award!

CD: Wrapped in a Dream
Label: Heads Up Int.
Site: Spyro Gyra

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Highlights Hour Two
The Sunrise - Jeffery B. Suttles:
During much of the 80s and 90s, LA born drummer Jeffery B. Suttles made a habit of backing many of the hottest acts in the business, from Bill Withers, Donny Osmond, Teena Marie, Sheena Easton, Brenda Russell, and Taylor Dayne to The Braxton Brothers, Chieli Minucci, Ronnie Laws, and George Howard. After putting his own musical interests on the backburner for many years, Suttles finally made a point to compose for and produce Time To Suttledown, his long-overdue solo debut. On the project, Suttles really stretches out exhibiting several diverse aspects of his musicality. Having assembled an A-list of supporting players, the project nonetheless, features Suttle's own signature blend of styles, from smooth and seductive, to funky and explosive! From that effort, we have a tune highlighted by the keyboard wizardry of Patrice Rushen and the guitar magic of Wali Ali, the incredibly uplifting and lyrical The Sunrise!

CD: Time To Suttledown
Label: Backhouse Records
Vinoy Park - TFOXX:
After 20 years in the US Marine Corps, Willie "TFOXX" Thompson, has for the past several years worked at establishing himself on the music scene in the Tampa Bay area. The sly one has opened for George Benson, BB King, Roger Smith, & more recently for Brian Culbertson & Patti Austin. Although Thompson has played professionally for over 30 years, a couple of years back he entered a brand new phase in his career. Early in 2004, TFOXX won a battle of the bands competition sponsored by Tampa's smooth station, WSJT, an accomplishment that helped to significantly raise his profile. In addition, you may recall hearing the name TFOXX in connection with Side Steppin', a selection he co-wrote that was featured on a release from top producer, now also top guitarist, Paul Brown. Having recorded four previous albums, Now Can U Feel Me, is TFOXX's latest effort and one produced in collaboration with our old friend Allon Sams at Studio A. From that release, we have the Vinoy Park, an upbeat piece highlighted by Mic Smith on flügelhorn and Rueben Drake on bass!

CD: Now Can U Feel Me
Label: Den House
Site: TFOXX ; A.Sams
Nuno - Vince Mai Experience:
MBand is the third release from Vince Mai and with it, the Vancouver based trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist sets a Café Jazz record! Mai is the first-ever Canadian artist to have topped our most played list of favourites for any given year and he's done so in a multitude of categories! When this cd arrived in our studios back in mid-February, I was immediately struck by the calibre of the project, noting that MBand was "an early pick for our list of top albums for the year" while several tracks were "a perfect fit for our show". Mai earned the distinction of providing us with the most spins, not only for top album, but also the top two tracks (MHouse and Nuno), while only narrowly missing out to Peter White as our most played artist over the course of the entire year. For full details, please check our 2006 List of Favourites!

CD: MBand
Label: Mai Music
Sites: Vince Mai

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
This extension to our Best of '06 recap encompasses our continued effort at providing a comprehensive musical summary of all the finest Smooth Jazz tracks from last year. To that end, we have Ray Parker Jr., Lee Ritenour, Michael Manson, and Bob James, as well as Will Donato, and Willie and Lobo, not to mention a few others, such as Gumbi Ortiz, Dan Carlin, Stephen Pfister, and Main Gazane!

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