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This Week at Café

March 22nd, 2009
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This Week at ...
... keyboardist Cecil Ramirez enters the spotlight with Talk To The Hand. There'll be three great tracks from that release and those are cued & ready as part of the showcase segment. In part 2 of the show there's another installment of Fresh Trax with all the latest and best in new music. Be sure to stay with us and catch all the action with Norman Connors and Nils. Also appearing are Alzie Ramsey and saxman Dean James, while debuting is Swiss guitarist Chris Grunder. Then later in the hour, we're pealing back the calendar pages with a snazzy batch of tracks from back in the day - this time that includes the doctor, Doc Powell, and saxman Marion Meadows. As well, there's Germany's De-Phazz and Kansas City keyboardist Max Groove - while additionally we've strewn about gems from the likes of Richard Elliot, Ray Obiedo, Nick Colionne, and Dave Koz. But as we get set for our opening salvo, there's a fabulous track from Acoustic Alchemy from a couple of years ago!
In This Issue:

Talk To The Hand - Cecil Ramirez

Sedona's View - Alzie Ramsey
Cool Summer - Chris Grunder
When I See You ... - Dean James
Stormin' Norman - Norman Connors
Jazz Cruise - Nils

Special Feature - Morning Magic

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Showcase CD
Talk To The Hand - Cecil Ramirez:

Cecil Ramirez started playing piano when he was five and as part of a military family, he lived in the USA on both coasts as well as in the Caribbean. It was during his high school years in Puerto Rico that Cecil began to develop his own direction in music. Following his father's final pre-retirement posting in San Diego in 1977, Ramirez was accepted into the music program at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He was 16. Graduating in 1981, Ramirez put together a band called Pacific Crossing that boasted a full rhythm and horn section. They played the Napa Valley and then for a time hit the Reno-Tahoe-Vegas casino circuit, a period during which Cecil lived in Las Vegas. Finally 'coming off the road' in the late 80s, Ramirez found work with a post-production facility as an audio engineer. In 1989, the studio owners chose to relocate to Sacramento and that became Ramirez's home base. In addition to a variety of studio gigs, Cecil was able to further hone his chops by playing on weekends with a band called Matches!

Cecil Ramirez - Talk To The Hand
Although studio work and playing in bands had always been a big part of his career, Ramirez knew deep down that his ultimate goal as a composer and performer was to release his own project. So it was that he set about the task of not only composing & recording material, but also tending the business aspects - he put together funding for the album and then followed through with marketing and promoting. Understandably, the endeavour came together slowly, but come together it did - and quite nicely too I might add! Ramirez played, programmed, and recorded everything but the guitar parts in his home studio. Meanwhile, Ramon Stagnaro recorded the nylon string bits in Southern California with Bruce Kaldor recording his jazz guitar parts in Central Michigan.
Cecil Ramirez
Cecil Ramirez
The tracks were then turned over to Cecil's co-producer, Ralph Stover, for the final mix and mastering. The result is Talk to the Hand, Cecil Ramirez's highly impressive debut. With a few covers and some expressive originals, Ramirez presents an appealing blend of danceable rhythms, emotional ballads, and smooth R&B grooves. It's therefore, now with pleasure that we pause to present Cecil Ramirez and Talk To The Hand as the focus for our spotlight feature! We've chosen a compliment of exceptional selections - beginning with the exquisite Palmas Del Mar! Rio De Maio delicately eases us into our second hour, while the track that first attracted us to Cecil's sound, the elegant Falling Through Time, provides everything that a discerning listeners could want to hear! With melody, mood, and a peerless presentation, Talk To The Hand by Cecil Ramirez is as fine an initial outing as we're likely to hear in 2009!

CD: Talk To The Hand (2008)
Label: Independent Release
Site: Cecil Ramirez ; CR/Space

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Alzie Ramsey - Sedona's View
Sedona's View - Alzie Ramsey:
Raised the son of a military man, Ramsey was afforded the opportunity to travel the world. He enjoyed some formal piano training and after relocating to West Palm Beach, Florida, he became one of the top fusion and studio players in that city. In addition, he's done a bit of jingle work while playing a variety of church functions; currently he's been touring with violinist Noel Webb while sharing the stage with Chuck Loeb, Alex Bugnon, and Marion Meadows among others. Having released a solo debut back in 2004, Sedona's View is Ramsey's forthcoming sophomore follow-up and from it we have the title track with Eric Marienthal guesting!

CD: Sedona's View (2009)
Label: Black Widow Music
Site: Alzie Ramsey ; AR/Space
Chris Grunder - Cool Summer
Cool Summer - Chris Grunder:
Hailing from a small town near Zurich Switzerland, Chris Grunder was nine when he started classical training in violin, but by 13 he'd become more interested in pop and rock. His parents let him take up guitar on the condition that he continue with his formal lessons and so it was that he started gigging in a band with his brother while writing sonatas for violin and piano. During college, Grunder continued his musical "double life" and became part of a successful fusion jazz band where he met his future business partner in a recording studio - eventually things picked up to the extent Grunder left university to work in the studio full time! Now 20 years in, the two have won numerous awards for producing and composing while working in LA, NYC, Germany, and other locales. This busy schedule largely, explains why Grunder has only recently completed his debut effort that he began work on all the way back in 2001. A solo album in the truest sense, Grunder wrote the music and played all the instruments while also handling recording, mixing, and production duties. From the recently issued Cool Summer, we have the boss vibe of the title track!

CD: Cool Summer (2009)
Label: Independent Release
Site: Chris Grunder

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
Dean James - Love Takes Time
When I See You Smile - Dean James:
Born & raised in San Francisco, Dean James was about 15 when he picked up the alto sax after a knee injury sidelined his aspirations in football. Inspired by jazz greats such as Parker and Coltrane and contemporary players in the vein of Grover and Sanborn, James furthered his musical education at Berklee in Boston. Upon returning to the Bay Area, he played sideman gigs on the Gospel circuit until relocating to LA in the mid-80s - there he developed as a regarded back-up and session player with the likes of Rob Mullins and others. Following the release of his debut in 1995 and its follow up, 1997's #11 album for the year, James vaulted to being a regular on the LA club circuit, playing many of the most popular venues like the Baked Potato. Additionally, James has played numerous festivals with several TV appearances as well. Now Houston-based, Love Takes Time is his upcoming fourth release and from it, we have the rich and mellow R&B grooves of the opening track!

CD: Love Takes Time (2009)
Label: TB Entertainment
Site: DJ/Space
Norman Connors - Star Power
Stormin' Norman - Norman Connors:
With a cast of supporting players, that includes Norman Brown and Marion Meadows, the title of Norman Connors' latest cd Star Power is well chosen. After touring & recording with sax jazz legend Pharoah Sanders, Connors debuted as a leader in 1972 and then thru the rest of the 70s, he featured vocalists such as Jean Carn and the late Phyllis Hyman - the track You Are My Starship continues as perhaps his most recognizable hit from that era. Although he made a comeback in the 90s, Connors has been conspicuously absent from the record scene for several years - Star Power being his first since the 2000 issue of Eternity. With a focus on urban jazz, this latest project to a large extent affords Connors the opportunity to reflection back upon an impressive career that is quickly closing in on the 4-decade mark. From that effort, we've selected the track Stormin' Norman, written by and featuring the sweet and steady style of Herman Jackson on keys!

CD: Star Power (2009)
Label: Shanachie Entertainment
Site: NC/Space
Nils - Up Close and Personal
Jazz Cruise - Nils:
Following what was undoubtedly, "the" smooth jazz story in 2005 with Pacific Coast Highway, Nils appears totally intent on dispelling any myths or rumours of being a one-hit wonder. The German-born guitarist did indeed set the bar exceedingly high with his 2005 sophomore release and an album that was at the top of pretty well every year-end best of list. Although his Ready To Play follow-up may have lacked the smash single status of PCH, the record was nonetheless a superior effort and in fact may have as a whole been a more well -rounded, diverse and dare I say it, a stronger release that its predecessor. Enter again the "man from Munich" with the lead single from his soon to be issued fourth cd and a tune that has the full potential to be one of the top hits in 2009! One thing eminently true about any Nils project - expect the best and you won't be disappointed! Nils Then & Now Spotlight Feature Ed #443 - May 20th, 2007

CD: Up Close and Personal (2009)
Label: Baja/TSR Records
Site: Nils ; Nils/Space

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
Morning Magic ... it's time for another theme shows with one that we're calling Morning Magic as each our spins has the word 'morning' in its title. So stay tuned if you will for selections such as Morning Goodness, At 2 In The Morning, and Morning Noon and Night, with 13 sunrise sampling selections in all. Opening things is Larry Carlton with the tune that lent its name to this segment - and he's followed by Joe McBride, flautist Paul Rozmus, and Soundscape out of the UK. Set #2 has Lisa Hilton and continues with Bob Mamet, George Benson, Bob James, and Spyro Gyra. While wrapping it up are Dancing Fantasy, Justo Almario, Johannes Linstead with Nicholas Gunn and finally Walter Beasley. So, as the rooster begins to signal the break of day we're conjuring up just right mood with Larry Carlton - on a 'before noon' special edition of Café Jazz and After Hours!

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