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This Week at Café

June 1st, 2008
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This Week at!
On this edition ... it's Monterey's resident keyboard whiz Kevin Kooyumjian in the showcase spotlight - we've cued selected tracks from the Monterey Cool release and we'll be spinning those as part of that feature. Hour 2 brings the Back Trax segment as we "dust off" more favourites from back in the day. Headlining this installment is the legendary Tower of Power long regarded as America's premiere funk-based band. Also appearing are saxman Bill Evans and guitarist Dwight Sills, while Hadley Hockensmith and Dan Farrow round out the feature. Then later in the hour, we've assembled a snappy batch of current faves - with Jim Savitt, flautist Bradley Leighton, saxlady Jessy J, and Miami-based keyboardist Mike Levine, while thruout you'll find selections by George Benson, Marc Antoine, Jackiem Joyner and Chris Geith!
In This Issue:

Monterey Cool - Kevin Kooyumjian

How Much I Want You - Dan Farrow
Caribbean Soul - Dwight Sills
Lullaby - Hadley Hockensmith
The Sunday After - Bill Evans
Cruise Control - Tower of Power

SPINLIST: Spinlist

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Showcase CD
Monterey Cool - Kevin Kooyumjian:

For the past few years, Monterey's resident keyboard whiz Kevin Kooyumjian has royally entertained visitors to that city's famed Cannery Row with his roving wireless "keytar". With parents, both of whom held Master's Degrees in music, it isn't surprising that the California native started playing piano when he was just two. Although Kooyumjian didn't take to the rigidity of performing classical music he later realized what a valuable asset that training would prove to be. By 14, he converted the garage into a studio, by 21, he turned professional, and then for the next 20 years or so, he dabbled in just about every genre conceivable. With tastes that span a gamut of styles from Jazz, Rock, and Reggae, to Blues, Top 40 and Country, Kooyumjian issued his smooth jazz debut in 1999. Regardless, it was a scant number of years later that as a relative unknown, Kooyumjian was entrusted as the sole provider of live musical entertainment for Monterey's world-famous destination!

Kevin Kooyumjian - Monterey Cool
Kevin Kooyumjian
Photo by Joshua Yospyn
& courtesy of
Now with five albums issued to date and another with a release date that is imminent, Kooyumjian provides proof positive that some of the coolest and most dynamic developments in the contemporary field are happening right now just outside of the mainstream. Therefore, it's with the utmost pleasure that we present an inspiring microcosm of the famed California coastal music scene with Mr. K and his Monterey Cool release! We have a triplet of tracks that I know you're gonna love beginning with the album opener in KrissKross. The liquid groove of Island View ushers in hour two, with Kooyumjian's simulated guitar grabbing centre stage. Meanwhile, the thumping enthusiasm and sweeping syncopation of the track Rush not only quicken the pulse, but provide a burst of sensations to very nicely punctuate the entire the affair!

CD: Monterey Cool
Label: Independent Release
Site: Kevin Kooyumjian

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Back Trax: Part One
Dan Farrow - Devotion
How Much I Want You - Dan Farrow:
Hailing from Zurich, Switzerland, Dan Farrow started with the Hammond B3 organ when he was three. He arrived on the scene in the mid-eighties, playing the famed Montreux Jazz Festival and, after relocating to the US in the early 90s, his career literally took off backing Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, and many other platinum-selling performers. He appeared on Ray Charles' Grammy-winning My World cd and in the time since, he's had dates around the world with multiple-endorsement deals. Primarily known for his work as a sessionist and touring keyboardist, Farrow has also developed as a lead player; he is currently in the studio working on a new project. In the meantime, we're returning to 2004 and Farrow's 3rd cd entitled Devotion, a solo effort in the purist sense as the project was conceived, written, arranged, recorded, and produced by Farrow himself; from that effort, we have the melodic How Much I Want You featuring Mr. Farrow on a variety of keys!

CD: Devotion (2004)
Label: Soul Star Records
Site: Dan Farrow
Dwight Sills - Easy
Caribbean Soul - Dwight Sills:
Experiencing music on an emotional level while he was growing up, Raleigh, NC native Dwight Sills knew at an early age that he wanted to become a professional musician. He began on drums, switched to the bass, and finally discovered guitar, which became his instrument of choice. Sills got his start playing with a jazz group called Axis in the Houston area in the 80s, and then with the help of Kirk Whalum he landed a deal that resulted in the release of his self-titled debut in 1990. The album faired well, making the R&B charts; his '92 follow-up however, was not quite as successful, so in the meantime Sills found steady employ recording & touring with the likes of Whalum, Anita Baker, and Boney James. Other notable appearances included sessions with Babyface and spots with Wayne Henderson & the Next Crusade on a pair of projects and with Michael Jackson on his 30th Anniversary television special.

In 1999, Sills marked a rather triumphant return to the solo ranks with the issue of the album Easy, but in spite of its success, he's been relatively content to remain one of the busiest sidemen in the business. From that effort, we have the track Caribbean Soul, an island-inspired burner featuring a tropical blend of blues and funk that's spiced by the playing of Russell Ferrante on the Hammond B-3 and by the saxwork of Sills's old friend Kirk Whalum on sax!

CD: Easy (1999)
Label: Citylights Music

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Back Trax: Part Two
Hadley Hockensmith - Heartsongs
Lullaby - Hadley Hockensmith:
With his father a member of the US Air Force, Atlanta-born Hadley Hockensmith lived in a variety of locales thruout the USA - he ended up in Oklahoma City for a majority of his school years and that was where he received most of his musical grounding. Moving to LA in 1975 at the age of 25, Hockensmith had several friends that had become producers in the field of contemporary Christian rock; consequently, he experienced no shortage of work. Learning of an opportunity with singer Neil Diamond's band, Hockensmith first toured with Diamond in '82 and later became a member on a permanent basis in 1986 - he's been affiliated with the vocalist ever since. A break from touring and recording in 1990, led to Hockensmith's one and only solo effort, a collection entitled Heartsongs. From that heartfelt effort, we present the ever-so-soothing Lullaby, a track well in keeping with the subtitle "music for your personal retreat"!

CD: Heartsongs (1990)
Label: LaserLight
Site: HH at Diamondville
Bill Evans - Escape
The Sunday After - Bill Evans:
Throughout his 30-year career, Bill Evans has frequently explored areas that fall well outside the parameters of traditional jazz. Evans started on piano but switched to the sax in high school and, after a year at North Texas State, he transferred to William Patterson College in New Jersey while studying privately with former Miles Davis sideman, Dave Liebman. It was thru Liebman that in 1980, at the age of 22, Evans connected with Davis, becoming the famed trumpeter's "soloistic foil in concert and on a series of recordings" from 1981 thru until 1984. Shortly thereafter, Evans joined John McLaughlin and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, appearing on a pair of projects. Additionally, he toured and recorded with the band Elements in the 80s and with an all-star fusion band called Petite Blonde in the 90s. While debuting as a soloist in 1984, Evans was Grammy-nominated on several occasions. Ever the innovator, he broke new ground in the mid 90s with a trio of projects wherein he merged jazz and hip-hop. From the 3rd of these, Escape from 1995, we've selected the slinky-sounding The Sunday After!

CD: Escape (1996)
Label: Escapade Music
Site: Bill Evans
Tower of Power - T.O.P.
Cruise Control - Tower of Power:
America's premier funk-based band is quickly closing in on the 40th anniversary of their 1970 debut release. Bandleader since the beginning has been tenor saxman Emilio Castillo - a native of Detroit who opted to follow his musical dreams in Oakland, CA. It was there that Castillo connected with baritone saxplayer Doc Kupka forming a band called The Motowns; it wasn't too long before the ensemble morphed into Tower of Power. Playing the Bay Area throughout the late 60s, the pair attracted several like-minded musicians, among them trumpeter Greg Adams, who became a charter member.

Although that initial effort didn't make much of impact, the sophomore follow-up touched off what proved to a string of classic releases. Although subsequent projects may have lacked consistency, Tower of Power developed a reputation for excellence based on the dynamism of their live shows and for their horn section that remained much in-demand as backing for some of the biggest and baddest bands around. Nonetheless, they experienced a terrific resurgence in the early 90s; in particular, many acknowledge the '93 T.O.P. cd as one of their finest. From that effort, which marked Adams's final record date with the band, we've selected a little travellin' music in the form of Cruise Control!

CD: T.O.P. (1993)
Label: Sony Music
Site: Tower of Power ; Greg Adams

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
Fresh listening takes over the spotlight with a 13-track line-up that is totally new to the show - included are selections by Stuart Steinhart, Jim Adkins, Everette Harp, Jesse Cook, and the band Present Tense. There's more from Gail Jhonson, Allistair Elliot, Bob Gaynor, and Lori Andrews, as well as from Lawson Rollins. New to the show are guitarist Robert Harris, keyboardist D.E. Chung, and saxman David Marq who winds down the hour!

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