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

September 23th, 2007
Edition #453 Previously Next

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This Week at CafeJazz.ca!
On today's show, it's Jay Soto and Stay Awhile, his sophomore release, in our showcase spotlight - to that end we've chosen our usual trio of tasty tracks. Then, coming up in hour 2 we focus on all the latest & best in new music with Fresh Trax - on this occasion we have a 5-pack that may well represent our finest offering for the year. Headlining this edition are Les Sabler and Eric Marienthal. Also appearing is Blake Aaron, while new to the show are keyboardist Burt Brion and DeeLight out of Germany featuring Ken Norris on vocals. Then later that same hour there's a retro pack with Jeff Golub, Jeff Lorber, Walter Beasley, & Ricardo Silveira. Other past faves include Brian Hughes, Eliane Elias, Peter White, and Nura while also appearing are Pieces of a Dream, Special EFX, Dephazz, and Andrew Neu!
In This Issue:

Stay Awhile - Jay Soto

Shine - Blake Aaron
Blue Water - Eric Marienthal
Let's Get It Going - Burt Brion
Summerlove - DeeLight
Club Street - Les Sabler

Then & Now - Norman Brown

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Showcase CD
Stay Awhile - Jay Soto:

In spite of trying drums when he was 5 and perhaps because of the rigors of classical piano which he experienced a couple of years later, Jay Soto knew when he picked up the guitar at the age of 12 that he'd found his passion. His early exposure in music ranged from Beethoven to the hymns sung in his church but to broaden that musical base, Soto attended Arizona State University. Today, Soto continues to honour his church roots as the music director for St. Helen's Church in Glendale, Arizona while as a composer and arranger, his music has appeared on hit TV series such as Sex and the City and All About Us. Following his stint at Arizona State, Soto gained valuable experience as the lead guitarist for the Christian group Vessel, and for Zum Zum Zum, a highly acclaimed Latin group. Then in 2004, Jay experienced a career-altering event when he entered Guitar Center's "Guitarmageddon" competition and came within a whisker of winning making it to the finals.
Jay Soto - Stay Awhile
This all paved the way for Long Time Coming, Soto's well-received self-produced debut that was released the following year. Now with a couple of more years to further hone an ever so impressive set of chops and having enlisted the production expertise of Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown, and Darren Rahn, Stay Awhile is Jay's outstanding recently issued sophomore effort!
Jay Soto Photo: Coutesy of
Jay Soto.com
It's with the utmost pleasure then that we place album & author in our showcase spotlight. We begin with a track called Just Like That while the beautifully expressive Daydreamin' creates a welcoming space at the top of hour 2. Ultimately, our finale features the suitably entitled Grooveland with Gary Meek guesting, whereupon we've reserved Jay's current hit called Slammin' as an added bonus to close the After Hours portion of the show. With licks to spare, terrific writing, impeccable production, and incredible pacing Jay Soto's Stay Awhile cd is choice and destined to be among a few elite projects vying for Café Jazz top honors for the year!

CD: Stay Awhile
Label: Nu Groove

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Blake Aaron - Desire
Shine - Blake Aaron:
We last heard a full project from Blake Aaron back in fall of 2004 and although a single was issued a couple of years later, for a variety of reasons, the release date for his follow up effort just kept getting pushed back. From getting married, to buying a new home and then to starting a family, the new album has been three full years in the making. However, with the recent issue of Desire the saying all good things come to those who wait has never rung more true. The project easily represents Aaron's most consistent, mature, and refined offering to date - and from it we've chosen a selection that is, in a word, simply gorgeous!

CD: Desire
Label: Innervision
Site: Blake Aaron
Eric Marienthal - Just Around The Corner
Blue Water - Eric Marienthal:
Sacramento native, Eric Marienthal attended Berklee in Boston before landing his first high profile gig with Al Hirt back in the late 70s. In the 80s, he played a variety of sessions including a stint at Walt Disney studios following which, in 1986, he connected with Chick Corea. As a member of Corea's acclaimed Elektric Band, Marienthal took part in a pair of projects, while releasing his own solo debut in 1987. Over the years, Marienthal has demonstrated his adeptness at a variety of styles becoming not only one of the most popular performers in smooth jazz but also highly regarded as a sessionist. Meanwhile, in 2001, Marienthal added joining The Rippingtons to an already impressive resume. With several well-received albums to his credit, Eric's latest release is entitled Just Around The Corner and from that effort, we have Blue Water, the excellent advance single!

CD: Just Around The Corner
Label: Peak Records
Site: Eric Marienthal

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
Burt Brion - Say The Word
Let's Get It Going - Burt Brion :
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Brion relocated to San Diego where he taught school for a time. During the late 80s and early 90s, he lost his eyesight for a couple of years as he battled an autoimmune illness - it was during this period that Brion's musical talents come to the fore as he began to play in churches and around town in order to earn a living. Eventually he regained his eyesight, but by then Burt's passion to play had also been rekindled. For the past 15 years, Brion's keys and vocals have been featured at a variety of private gatherings - however, with the issue of his smooth jazz debut, actually released in 2005, his profile has substantially increased. He's amassed an impressive resume topped by several appearances at Humphrey's backstage lounge, acknowledged by many as that city's premier jazz venue! More recently, Brion's star has continued to rise with Say The Word gaining ever-increasing exposure and airplay. From that effort, we have the lead track highlighted by Burt's superb piano playing and the snappy scatting of Deborah Flores!

CD: Say The Word
Label: Mister B Records
Site: Burt Brion
DeeLightfeat. Ken Norris - Summerlove
Summerlove - DeeLight feat. Ken Norris:
The Oh Yes Record label, it's associated publishing company, and it's production studios were established in 1991 by German producer & composer Claus-Robert Kruse. Although since it's launch date, the label primarily had been a vehicle to support Kruse and his own production projects, that mission has expanded over the years. At this point Oh Yes supports a wide range of styles and artists and remains a purely online distributor. For his part, Ken Norris made his European debut at Le Printemps de Bourges Festival in France around the time of the release of his first cd and that was followed a couple of years later by a second cd of original jazz material. In 2001, his performances earned recognition at the Crest Vocal Jazz Festival. Meanwhile he's also appeared as a featured guest soloist with or as a member of several big bands and orchestras and been broadcast nationally on German radio. With music by Bob Cruise, lyrics & vocals by Ken Norris, and a sweet sax solo courtesy of Prince Alec, the perfectly laid-back Summerlove, released about mid-way thru the year, is a lounge-flavoured gem and presents the Euro-vibe at its finest!

CD: Summerlove (Digital Single)
Label: Oh Yes Records
Site: DeeLight/Oh Yes ; Ken Norris ; Prince Alec
Les Sabler - Sweet Drive
Club Street - Les Sabler:
On Sweet Drive, Les Sabler's 4th and latest release "There were no compromises," says Sabler. Since we here at the Café have been privy to all the details pretty well right from the planning stages onward we can attest to the veracity of this statement. After enjoying a #1 record up here in Canada with Bridge the Gap, Sabler remained committed to elevating his game. He devoted great time & energy to the critical process of song selection and by enlisting the aid of ace-bassist & producer Brian Bromberg, plus many of his favourite A-players for the project, Sabler delivers a veritable diamond of an album. Quite simply there is something on the project for everyone, from the soulful romance of You've Got It Bad Girl, the Stevie Wonder penned album opener, to the full-bore fusion-flavoured jam of the Ron Moton composition Twenty-Two.

The first radio promotion is Club Street, "a kinetic electric guitar and sax thrill ride" * written by Travis Vega that we have anxiously been waiting to play for the better part of a year. Activated by the synergy between Sabler's pumped guitar playing and the spunky sax work of Gary Meek, the track "alters its pace between mellow straight-aways and careening downhills". * Suffice it to say, we're revved about both the project & its lead single and that you'll be hearing more from Mr. Sabler & Sweet Drive right here in the weeks ahead! In the meantime, if you're looking for a sweet drive, join Les & us as we take a musical cruise down Club Street!
*Courtesy of publicist Rick Scott for Great Scott P.R.oductions

*Café Jazz Pick-of-the-Week!*

CD: Sweet Drive
Label: The Music Force Media Group
Site: Les Sabler

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
Featured on this edition is Norman Brown - we've gone to each of Brown's solo releases for a seven track installment of Then & Now; that's coming up about a dozen or so minutes in. Otherwise, something that's become a tradition as new music rules - we have six fresh & tasty selections to round out the hour. Today's line-up includes Acoustic Alchemy, Nate Harasim and Bob Madsen & the World Machine, as well as something brand new from Britain's Shakatak. New to our show is the music of Gene Burkert while as an added bonus we have a selection from Jay Soto that surprisingly we've never played before and that's our closing track!
Then & Now Spotlight Artist: Norman Brown

Norman Brown - Just Between Us Just Between Us
Norman Brown - After The Storm After The Storm

Norman Brown - Better Days Ahead Better Days Ahead
Norman Brown - Celebration Celebration
Warner Bros.
Norman Brown - Just Chillin' Just Chillin'
Warner Bros.
Norman Brown - West Coast Coolin' West Coast Coolin'
Warner Bros.
Norman Brown - Stay With Me Stay With Me
Peak Records

Norman Brown: Originally hailing from Shreveport, Louisiana, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Norman Brown picked up his first guitar at the age of eight and although Jimi Hendrix was his first inspiration, he steered in the direction of jazz because of his father's love of Wes Montgomery. Brown explains, "He would sit down in the basement and listen to me practice for hours and hours. And he really liked Wes Montgomery … so I learned that style".

Norman Brown - 2004 Music Festival for Mental Health Norman Brown: 2004 Music Festival for Mental Health
After high school, Brown's increasing interest in jazz led him to relocate to Los Angeles and to attend the Musicians Institute where he also taught for a time. In 1992, he signed with the fledgling MoJazz division of Motown, delivering three critically acclaimed releases - the compilation The Very Best of Norman Brown released in 2005 well chronicles those years. The close of the 90s saw Brown move to Warner Bros. where he first connected with ace producer Paul Brown - their second collaboration on Just Chillin' went on to win several Grammys! A few years and three cds later, changes at Warner Bros. led to Brown again shifting labels this time landing a deal with Peak Records. With the issue of Stay With Me, his label debut, the album became Brown's seventh solo release, that to go along with a project recorded as BWB during his Warner years. So, with that all said that nicely sets the stage for a seven-track Norman Brown Then & Now feature. We begin at the beginning and Brown's 1992 Just Between Us debut and its title track - that's followed by Lydian from After the Storm and Better Days Ahead the title track - those three selections providing a good sampling of the MoJazz years.

That brings us to 1996 and nearly halfway in the feature. Celebration kicks off our review of the Warner Bros. phase of Brown's career with The Feeling I Get and Up 'N' At 'Em rounding out that portion. Meanwhile capping our second set and the feature, we have one of our current faves, Soul Dance with Sam Riney guesting on sax! In all, it's a breezy collection filled with tasty grooves and delicious licks and well illustrates why Brown is consistently considered among the best in the genre!

Site: Norman Brown

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