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This Week at Café

December 7th, 2008
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This Week at ...
… entering the spotlight on today's edition, we have David Benoit and his Heroes release. We've chosen a trio of selections and have those cued & ready as part of the showcase feature. Our second hour brings another batch of Fresh Trax with all the latest and best in new music. Headlining the segment is Jeff Lorber, while debuting we have The JWB, Mark Rossi, Russ Hewitt, and the saxman calling himself Plunky. That's followed later in the hour, with a set of retro classics, which include Greg Adams, our good friend Allon Sams out of the Tampa Bay area, bassman Michael Manson, and Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons - while the remainder of the show is a dazzle of excitement with Warren Hill, the band Fourplay and Dave Koz. But as the moment to begin is at hand, we set things in motion with Chuck Loeb!

In This Issue:

Heroes - David Benoit

Lydia - Russ Hewitt
Come On Up - Jeff Lorber
Midday - The JWB
Giovanni et Paulo - Mark Rossi
Drive It - Plunky

Special Feature - Follow Your Dream

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Showcase CD
Heroes - David Benoit:

As a five-time Grammy nominee, David Benoit has amassed a wide-ranging resume. Beginning with his solo debut in 1977, he's recorded over two dozen albums including a couple as half of The Benoit/Freeman Project; there have also been a pair of seasonal releases, one Best of, several soundtrack compilations, and another yet still as a charter member of the Rippingtons. With Heroes, his second and most recent release on the Peak Records music label, Benoit celebrates his 30-plus year career by putting a fresh spin on a few classic songs that have inspired his own creativity. Therefore, the album title is totally apropriate. On the disc, Benoit pays tribute to icons of jazz piano such as Grusin, Silver, and Evans, while also providing insight into some of his pop & rock influences in the likes of Michael Jackson and The Doors. Our feature showcases a trio of his finest interpretations and as such, it's now with great pleasure that we place David Benoit & Heroes squarely in the glow of our showcase spotlight - beginning with the first single to radio in the track Human Nature!

David Benoit - Heroes
The tune was recorded by Michael Jackson for the Thriller cd and now we have Benoit's great take on the track! The year was 1967 when Benoit heard Light My Fire by The Doors, one of the first rock bands to use keys. On the cd liner notes, David shares, he was a 15-year old when he learned this piece. Although the track has been covered on other occasions, this may well be the jazziest in the bunch!
David Benoit
One of the aspects most revealing on Heroes is Benoit's ability to glide between styles, not only between tracks but often within a single track. When he tackles vintage Horace Silver in the tune Song For My Father, Benoit dispels any doubts as to the validity of his jazz credentials; the tune was the first jazz piece he learned to play by ear, and additionally it lends well to Benoit's new-millennium-groove-treatment. It remains a favourite on the disc and a fitting salute to a jazz luminary from a current paladin of the genre!

CD: Heroes (2008)
Label: Peak Records
Site: David Benoit ; Benoit/Space

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Russ Hewitt - Bajo el Sol
Lydia - Russ Hewitt:
Dallas native, Russ Hewitt is known locally as a "rock shredder" as his promo literature puts it with plenty of credentials to back up the statement. Even so, the graduate of North Texas State has also performed classically and is seasoned as a studio veteran. After backpacking thruout Europe and with travels in Turkey and other exotic locals such as China and Egypt, Hewitt's exposure enabled him to jam with many of the authentic players in each region. Upon his return, Hewitt was inspired to create Bajo el Sol, or Under the Sun, as his solo debut. With influences from rumba & flamenco and Arabic & Indian textures, Hewitt terms the fusion of flavours as "Latin world." From that effort, we've selected one of his best!

CD: Bajo el Sol (2008)
Label: Saulito Music
Site: Russ Hewitt ; Hewitt/Space
Jeff Lorber - Heard That
Come On Up - Jeff Lorber:
One of the pioneers in the contemporary movement, Jeff Lorber's love of jazz began while attending Berklee in Boston. In the late 70s, he formed The Jeff Lorber Fusion, a group that combined funk, R&B, rock, and electric jazz. The unit became one of the most successful acts of the day, but was disbanded at the height of their popularity by Lorber, who chose instead to focus on production and session work. In the course of events, Jeff returned to recording his own music in the early 90s and quickly resumed his position as one of the most influential players on the scene. Now many cds into this latest phase of his career, Lorber recently released Heard That and from that effort we have the opening track!

CD: Heard That (2008)
Label: Peak Records
Site: Jeff Lorber ; JL/Space(1) ; JL/Space(2)

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
The JWB - In Perspective
Midday - The JWB:
The JWB is The James Ward Band and is led by bassist James Ward. A native of Kansas City Missouri, JW attended Florida A&M where he studied tuba, while playing in a variety of groups. Thru the years, Ward has appeared with Mark Whitfield, Oleta Adams, Patti Austin, and Russell Malone, as well as many others. Finally, after gigging back in the Kansas City area as The JWB since 1997, Ward chose to release his debut album. Entitled In Perspective the project presents an appealing blend of styles from Latin and R&B to Fusion, Funk, Jazz, and Gospel - from that effort we've selected the lead single in Midday!

CD: In Perspective (2007)
Label: GroovWard
Site: JWB/Space ; JWB/Sonic Bids
Mark Rossi - Contrasts
Giovanni et Paulo - Mark Rossi:
Hailing from the Boston region, keyboardist Mark Rossi played in a variety of jazz and R&B bands before relocating to the West Coast. Setting up shop in San Francisco, Rossi was inspired by the eclectic sounds of the bay area, and sought to reflect his love for contrasting musical concepts. Released just last year is the aptly entitled Contrasts, Rossi's debut and from that effort we have what could well be a study in contrasts in the tune Giovanni et Paulo!

CD: Contrasts (2007)
Label: Independent
Site: Rossi/cdbaby
Plunky - Drive It
Drive It - Plunky:
Revving it up is saxman J. Plunky Branch, a veteran of over 35 years in the music business.. A one-time studio musician for The Cosby Show, Plunky also scored a top-10 soul hit in England. He's appeared on albums by Pharaoh Sanders and others while playing festivals and touring various regions of the globe. Additionally, on his own and as leader of the band Plunky & Oneness, he's released over 25 albums of original funk-soul, avant-garde jazz, fusion, gospel and African music. Pictured as sort of a modern day musical version of 'the terminator' on the cover of his latest release, Plunky leaves little if any doubt as to what he's all about. From the cd Drive It we have the kinetic title track!

CD: Drive It (2008)
Label: N.A.M.E. Brand Records
Site: Plunky ; Plunky/Space ; Plunky/Sonic Bids

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
Follow Your Dream's the third installment in our four-part series, wherein each & every selection we spin has 'dream' in its title. This time we're calling it Follow Your Dream adopting that name from a track by 3rd Force that will be coming up a bit later in the show - additionally, it's nothing but dreams with the likes of Pieceful Dreams, Dream Date, and Dreaming of You. The opening set has music by Jay Soto, Pieces of a Dream, Al Turner, and Chieli Minucci. We continue in set #2 with Freddie Fox - that's followed by Brian Culbertson, Craig Chaquico, Spyro Gyra, and Daryl Hall. While in the end, it's Richard Chadwick, the aforementioned track from 3rd Force, J. Thompson, and David Longoria!

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