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This Week at Café

May 30th, 2010
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American Smooth Jazz Awards!
Under the heading of BOFFO entertainment news, we're sharing this bit of information with anyone who cares to listen. Yours truly has garnered consideration as American Smooth Jazz Awards internet broadcaster of the year. So if you enjoy the style of the radio show that's on the cutting edge of cool, here's how you can spread the luv - we're conveniently linked to the Awards site and that's where you can vote. So regardless of where you are, be it tuned to KCCK in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Iowa, or listening on RFTK in the UK, this is your personal invite to join in on the fun and to give a thumbs up in a very real and tangible way to all your favourites. This of course includes listeners on Vancouver's LG73 as well as all our friends and fans on Radio in Santiago, Chile!

This Week at
… on the hot plate for today's show is Earthglow from David Benoit - we've chosen some nifty tunes in triplicate and we're playing those on the showcase segment. Then on Back Trax in hour 2 it's time again to kick it ole skool. Spotlighted are keyboardist Bobby Wells and The Strange-Hutchens Ensemble. There's music from Yutaka and Wayne Wesley Johnson with Ruben Romero as well as from Johann Asmundsson, the long time bassist with Mezzoforte. Later in the same hour, you can look for some of the freshest and most exciting sounds around as we've queued The James Colah Project and Walle Larsson; we have Steve Oliver plus there's Saskia Laroo; while also appearing are Jackiem Joyner, Steve Laury, and J Michael Verta - on the radio show where good taste is its own reward!
In This Issue:

Earthglow - David Benoit

How Would You Feel - Strange-Hutchens
Hypnotic Safari - Johnson and Romero
Pastel Horizon - Bobby Wells
Urban Jungle - Yutaka
So Low - Johann Asmundsson

AFTER HOURS : Side Steppin'
PLAYLIST: Playlist for Ed#573

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Showcase CD
Earthglow - David Benoit:

There's been a lot of water flowing under the bridge since David Benoit released his debut back in 1977. The Bakersfield CA native grew up in South Bay near Los Angeles and his formal training included drill with Arturo Toscanini's pianist. He studied theory and composition at El Camino College and while attending UCLA he focused on orchestration and film scoring. Then in 1976, Benoit was hired on as Lainie Kazan's Musical Director before he assumed similar roles with Ann Margaret and Connie Stevens. Since that time, as a 5-time Grammy nominee, Benoit has recorded nearly 30 albums including a couple as The Benoit/Freeman Project. There has been a pair of seasonal releases, one Best of, several soundtrack compilations, and another yet still as a charter member of The Rippingtons. Even so, there are many other aspects to the career of the man who is soon to be the honoree at the inaugural American Smooth Jazz Awards! Benoit has frequently paid tribute to the music of Vince Guaraldi. He enjoyed a ten year association composing for The Peanuts Gang specials - that to go along with a couple of milestone Charlie Brown anniversary cds.

David Benoit - Earthglow
Concurrently, Benoit has expanded his involvement in the symphonic realm - as a burgeoning conductor he's led eminent ensembles in LA, London, Nuremberg, and San Francisco. And while there have been several notable film score, Benoit has also long been a guest with Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation - in fact he was recognized in 2001 with the organization's "excellence in music education" award.

In the midst of all of this, it was late in 2008, that Benoit felt a need for a bit of a break from the LA lifestyle. Heading up to the mountains near Saratoga, he drew inspiration for a couple of pieces that laid the foundation for his new cd Earthglow. On the project there's ample evidence of Benoit's diverse credentials and an album with a great jazz mentality. It's therefore with a measure of alacrity that we now place this latest issue in the gleam of our spotlight - and for the occasion we've chosen a trilogy of terrific tracks. Leading in is the tune Sneaky as a Cat - a sassy ditty featuring flautist Tim Weisberg! At first, Benoit "was interested in experimenting with some of the new 'jazz-lounge-Euro-chill' music" he was hearing in upscale hotels & restaurants - and wanted to use an electronica-based approach to the album. However, upon the advice of co-producer Clark Germain, who felt it would be a mistake to go too far in that direction, he reined in this inclination.
David Benoit
David Benoit - Promo Shot!
Nonetheless, a couple of selections offer this aesthetic, a prime example being Straightaway highlighted by the saxwork of Jeff Kashiwa and that starts the second half of the show. While in the end for our closer we have a tune which fuses several unique elements - a mix of "African voices along with Brazilian beats" in Botswana Bossa Nova. The early reviews are in and they're glowing. For Art Good the project merits "instant consideration for Album of the Year," while to quote noted critic Alex Henderson, David Benoit's Earthglow is readily "one of the more memorable albums" in his catalogue. And to that sentiment I'm inclined to add ... it's also easily one of the finest in what has already been acknowledged a highly illustrious career!

CD: Earthglow (2010)
Label: Heads Up International / Concord Music Group

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Back Trax: Part One
Strange-Hutchens Ensemble - Night Dances
How Would You Feel - Strange-Hutchens Ensemble:
Our never ending quest for great music from the past sees use catching up with the unit known as The Strange-Hutchens Ensemble with principle members Ron Hutchens and Tommy Strange. Keyboardist Ron Hutchens spent his early years in Asheboro, N.C., playing piano in a few local bands. After high school he gigged along the East Coast before moving to Nashville where he established a career in composing, as a sessionist, and performing. For his part, Nashville native Tommy Strange played guitar for jazz and rock bands during his high school and college years and then toured the Southeast in dance and show bands. Tommy and Ron met playing in a rhythm section for a Nashville studio, and then formed an R&B band before coming to the realization that jazz was their calling. The result was the blend that became The Strange-Hutchens Ensemble. Night Dances was their release in the year 2000 and from it there's the bluesy-funk of How Would You Feel!

CD: Night Dances (2000)
Label: Spirit Stone Records
Links: Ron Hutchens - Tommy Strange -
Wayne Wesley Johnson and Ruben Romero - Hypnotic Safari
Hypnotic Safari - W.W. Johnson and R. Romero:
Both Wayne Wesley Johnson and Ruben Romero have been performing on guitar since early childhood. Formerly a drummer for guitar legend Les Paul, Wayne Wesley became established on the New Jersey music scene shortly after college, and thru the years he led several of his own bands - developing as a thumb and finger jazz stylist. Nonetheless, Johnson took an extended two decade break from his career when he worked his way up thru the ranks to become CEO of the family business. After a few more years at the head of a scale-manufacturing firm, he traded it all for life on the Santa Fe music circuit. Working as a soloist as well with veteran Ruben Romero, Wayne Wesley perfected a technique he refers to as "Jazzamenco"!
For his part Ruben Romero is a veteran artist who originally began his guitar training in Spain. With a catalogue of over 20 releases and considered as a master in both the classical and flamenco realm, Romero helped pioneer what has become to be known as "Santa Fe Sound". From this pair of guitar virtuosos and their third collaboration in the cd Hypnotic Safari, we have the emotion filled and innovative title track! Coming in at just over seven minutes we've served the short version as there's also an extended 18 minute mix that's simply astounding!

CD: Hypnotic Safari (1999)
Label: Wannadu Productions
Links: Johnson - Romero -

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Back Trax: Part Two
Bobby Wells - It's About Time
Pastel Horizon - Bobby Wells:
Growing up in Omaha, Bobby Wells selected the trombone as his first instrument - however, as he suffered from severe asthma - he spent a great deal of time in the hospital in oxygen tents. Realizing that the trombone was not going to work for him, Wells tried playing the piano at his church and eventually discovered that drums came naturally to him and so he added those to his repertoire. Relocating to Denver, Wells joined a reggae band and drummed for them for several years and then as the smooth movement gained steam, he turned to that style. With credits that include working with Bryan Savage, Wells issued his debut in 1994 and then followed a few years later with It's About Time. From that issue we have the delicate hues of Pastel Horizon with Darren Rahn guesting on sax!

LP: It's About Time (1999)
Label: Permanent Wave / Bobby Wells Music
Yutaka - Brazasia
Urban Jungle - Yutaka:
Yutaka Yokokura began classical piano training at the age of four and while listening to the pop sounds of the day, he was also attracted to Brazilian music. He moved to the US in 1972, to attend Cal State Long Beach and from '75 thru to '78, he landed a gig performing with Hiroshima. - it was during this stint that he became re-acquainted with his own Japanese heritage and began doubling on the traditional Japanese stringed instrument called the koto. He released a Japanese debut in 1978 and then after years of studio work, in '88 he signed a deal with GRP - the cd Brazasia followed in 1990 and a project whose title nicely encapsulates the musical concepts contained therein. From that effort, we have a blend of flavors captured in the track Urban Jungle!

CD: Brazasia (1990)
Label: GRP Records
Johann Asmundsson - So Low
So Low - Johann Asmundsson :
Born and raised in Reykjavik Iceland, Johann Asmundsson was in his early teens when he started playing the bass and at 16, he and three friends formed the group Mezzoforte. Since the time that Mezzoforte broke internationally in 1983, Johann and the band have toured extensively. Although Mezzoforte has been his main gig since the band's inception in 1977, Johann has also worked with many of his country's leading musicians while he's also a member of the jazz department faculty at the college of music. Additionally, Asmundsson recorded a solo effort back in 2001 that was issued on Passion Jazz, a label well-noted for a raft of innovative issues! From the double entendre of the So Low cd, we have the energetic slap of the title track!

CD: So Low (2001)
Label: Passion Jazz

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
Side Steppin': … as part of the ongoing connections series, we're presenting a sequence of 14 tunes - in some way, all are associated with the root word for the occasion that being step. So the playlist includes several tracks going by the title Steppin' Out. There's High Steppin', Steppin' in Blue and Steppin' Back - obviously there is no limit to the lengths that we'll go to, to get a complete complement of selections for these editions. Now you may wonder… "What's up with these connections editions anyway?" It may seem just a bit artificial playing a bunch of tracks that at least name-wise, sound the same. There are 2 main reasons for these shows … it gives us a chance to dig into the Café Jazz archives for music that might otherwise be missed - plus, not to be critical of anyone, it's slightly more creative than playing a list of top tracks. In this regard, we have a couple of other concepts we're set to explore in the upcoming season of Café Jazz - but more on that later. In the meantime, it is in fact time to do some steppin' and for the occasion we have a Tim Bowman tune sporting that very title! Playlist for Ed#573

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