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This Week at CaféJazz.ca

January 21st, 2007
Edition #431 Previously Next

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The Best of '06 Review - Part 2
We pick up where we left off a couple of weeks ago with part 2 in our 3 part series. Today's highlights includes Eric Darius, The Jazzmasters, Everette Harp, and Nestor Torres and added to that are Boday, Johnny Menzano, and Paul Thomas Yoder!

Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards!
I've been nominated!
The 3rd Annual Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards will be held Friday April 27, 2007. The venue is the plush Hammerson Hall at The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga Ontario. And as bit of a footnote, yours truly has garnered a nomination as smooth jazz broadcaster of the year!
In This Issue:

Feeling Good - Steve Oliver
Soul Candy - Ultrablue
Bongo Baby - Greg Adams
Splashdown - Briza
Skip It - Steve Briody
Just My Style - Marion Meadows

AFTER HOURS : More of The Best

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Highlights Hour One
Feeling Good - Steve Oliver:

Music has been in Steve Oliver's blood ever since he was a kid growing up in Walnut Creek California so it's no wonder Oliver keeps skipping from one career highlight to another! After breaking onto the smooth jazz scene courtesy of the exposure gained as a member of Steve Reid's Bamboo Forest, Oliver was deservedly selected as Debut Artist of The Year for his performance on First View. Excellence has become the norm as Oliver has risen to star attraction status in the Smooth Jazz arena based on both the strength of his subsequent studio work and the energy of his live performances. With the release of Radiant, now his fourth solo project, Oliver continues that upward spiral. From the man whose music is what feeling good is all about, we have a track whose title says it all!

CD: Radiant
Label: Koch
Site: Steve Oliver

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Soul Candy - Ultrablue:
When we show cased the sophomore release from John Smatla and Ultrablue back in August of '06, I was moved to describe the album as "far superior to the vast majority of smooth jazz projects" and that in our humble opinion, the effort scored "an A+" for creativity and musicianship! Now several months later, it's a pleasure to return to one of the premier releases in 2006 and our #4 most played record for the year. Accentuated by Randy Brecker's gorgeous flugelhorn, and lightly spiced with the velvety stylings of Allure, the effect created borders on euphoric, making Soul Candy one of our all-time favourites!

CD: Ultrablue
Label: 215 Records
Bongo Baby - Greg Adams:
After 25 years and 14 albums as a founding member of Tower of Power, countless guest spots with many of the biggest and best in the business, and three more projects under his own name, in 2006 Greg Adams emerged with what could well be his crowning achievement. On Cool to the Touch, the Grammy and Emmy nominated horn player captures the magic that has epitomized his career while successfully navigating those tricky waters between accessibility and hipness. Among the selections that drew our interest was Bongo Baby, a sophisticated Latin-flavoured gem, upon which Adams expertly twins with himself comparing rather favourably with some of the finest sounds that Herb Alpert had to offer!

CD: Cool to the Touch
Label: Ripa Records
Site: G.Adams ; Ripa Rec

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Highlights Hour Two
Splashdown - Briza:
Taking their name from a genus generally referred to as the quaking grasses, Briza is a project that unites David Arkenstone and Nicholas Gunn, two top names in the world of new age music. Having recorded nearly 20 albums, Arkenstone has increasingly turned to the synergy between computers and instruments while incorporating influences from World, classic rock, and new age. Meanwhile, British-born and classically trained Nicolas Gunn, is reputedly one of the world's best selling flutists; he's recorded over a dozen albums with many reaching the Top Ten on Billboard's New Age charts. As Briza, the pair presents "a cool and sensual mix of chilled grooves", music that invites you to kick back and a perfect mood-setter for when the lights are dim. From this "refreshing Ambience-on-the-Rocks" release, we have the ultra soothing sounds of Splashdown!

CD: Ambient Café
Label: Gemini Sun
Site: D.Arkenstone ; N.Gunn
Skip It - Steve Briody:
In 2003, Steve Briody was our pick as one of the brightest new stars to come along in quite some time. After being "lucky enough to have made a living as a guitarist for the last 10 years or so," Briody drew much critical acclaim with his self-titled debut. Exhibiting a style that was described as fresh, soulful & smooth, that album gained considerable airplay and laid the groundwork for Keep On Talkin', Briody's follow up effort. Steve's experience and heightened awareness as a musician are evident thruout. This latest album features outstanding performances from Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, and Greg Adams while Rippingtons' keyboardist Bill Heller is at the helm adding his production expertise. In all, the project falls nothing short of being a definite winner and as proof, we have the opening track with Eric Marienthal on sax!

CD: Keep on Talkin'
Label: 215 Records
Site: Steve Briody
Just My Style - Marion Meadows :
While reviewing In Deep back in 2003, I wrote: "Seven is indeed lucky, at least for us fortunate listeners, as Meadows shows the maturity in sound and style that can only come about through years of honing one's craft." The cd signalled a new era in his career and featured the debut of Meadows and keyboardist / producer Michael Broening as an inspired musical team. Now a few years and a couple of cds later, Dressed To Chill, is the latest installment to show case their prodigious talents. For the past couple of albums, I've maintained that Meadows is an artist fully within the prime of his career. Dressed To Chill, which placed #2 on our list of year-end favourites for 2006, readily reaffirms that belief!

CD: Dressed To Chill
Label: Heads Up
Site: Marion Meadows

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Web Site:
Part two in our series continues with our own unique and exquisite blend of favourites, and this time we're focusing on a few artists & musicians that may not be quite as well known. That includes Mark Cassara, the group Wavelength, The Collective, Lafayette Harris Jr., José Valentino, and Bakithi Kumalo. Several familiar names, such as Larry Carlton, Marilyn Scott, Tommy Emmanuel, and Nelson Rangell also appear for a lucky total of 13 fabulous tracks!

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