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Jazz 18/12/2019

Special EFX Eager To Get Into Some All-Star "Hanky Panky" On Valentine's Day

Special EFX Eager To Get Into Some All-Star "Hanky Panky" On Valentine's Day

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Mainstay of the GRAMMY nominated collective that is Special EFX, guitarist Chieli Minucci has spent a lot of time on the road the last few years with a revolving lineup of celebrated musicians who bring the band's world jazz brand to life. When Minucci began writing the group's 21st album that he produced, he came up with the idea of inviting each player from the rotating touring ensemble to perform on the album and even composed material with specific musicians in mind. The luminous result is "All Stars," a title that is a nod to an accomplished supporting cast. The imaginative collage of contemporary jazz, world music and blues drops on February 14 on the Trippin 'N' Rhythm imprint. Radio will get its first sampling in the form of "Hanky Panky Boys," a groovy, retro cool tune that finds Minucci's guitar and organ getting into a heap of mischief with saxophonist Eric Marienthal.

"It was the first tune that I wrote specifically for the album and it doesn't really sound like Special EFX, whatever that might be! I wanted to write something a bit different that we could play at jazz festival jam sessions, a piece that kind of sounds like a standard. Writing it got me fired up and inspired to write other music for the project," said Minucci, who co-founded Special EFX 35 years ago with the late percussionist George Jinda and has amassed a host of Billboard No. 1 singles.

Minucci wrote thirteen songs for "All Stars" and scrapbooked the talented artists who brought his eclectic vision into focus along with his New York City-based core band members Jay Rowe (keyboards), Jerry Brooks (bass) and Joel Rosenblatt (drums). Among the dozens of guest stars on the album are violinist Regina Carter, saxophonist/flautist Nelson Rangell, trumpeter Lin Rountree, multi-horn player David Mann, Spyro Gyra drummer Lionel Cordew, bassist Gerald Veasley, keyboardist Lao Tizer, fretless bassist-vocalist Fernando Saunders, a longtime Special EFX family member who has a history with the outfit dating back to their formative years; and 2019 Soul Tracks Female Vocalist of the Year Maysa Leak, who soars mightily on a version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing."

"I grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix. During a show we did two years ago with Maysa, I asked if she'd like to try singing 'Little Wing' and I was totally blown away. I asked her about making a recording of it and when she agreed, I got serious about the arrangement. I wanted to pay homage to the rock aspect of Jimi Hendrix. I also wanted to do something that was modern R&B. I think it came out unusual and I'm curious to hear how people react to it. I don't really do cover tunes too often so this was different," said Minucci, who will lead a revolving Special EFX lineup on a busy touring schedule in support of "All Stars" beginning on the eve of the album release date at Yoshi's Oakland.
One song on "All Stars" is especially personal to Minucci. "'Sweet Memories Of You' is a solo guitar piece that has a deeper meaning for me because I wrote it around the time my mom was passing a few years ago. It's one of the pieces I felt would be important to include on the record - not only to break up the mood and texture of the listen, but also to give people something a little more contemplative in the middle of the record."

As the listener gets deeper into the album, the depth and breadth of Minucci's compositional and arranging skills are on full display. "Kampala" was written on a borrowed acoustic guitar in a Ugandan hotel room during a concert tour. Minucci calls the two-part "Great Escape" "a labor of love that was written in odd meter because that's part of the style I grew up listening to and really love. 'Flows Like Water' is a bit jazzier than what I typically do with Special EFX. I wanted to let people hear something a little bit different. I like to give people who buy our records and come to our shows a variety of styles. 'Flows Like Water' is a really nice representation of how tight the band has become over the many years we've worked together."

"All Stars" concludes with "One Stick And A Stone" - the stick being Steve Adelson's Chapman Stick that engages Minucci's guitar intimately. "It's a world groove piece reminiscent of what my late great partner, George Jinda, used to do on percussion. I wanted to end on a nostalgic note, something very true to the Special EFX sound."

In addition to crafting Special EFX records, Minucci has released nearly a dozen solo collections. A guitar player gifted with an extensive sonic palate and technical proficiency, he has recorded and performed with a galaxy of A-list pop, rock, R&B and jazz stars spanning Celine Dion, Lou Reed, Chaka Khan, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Jewel, Mark Anthony, Michael Bolton, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, Rick Braun, Marion Meadows and Mindi Abair. Nominated for ten Emmy Awards for the music he created for television shows such as "The Guiding Light," "Dancing With The Stars," "American Idol" and "Good Morning America" (theme), Minucci is a three-time Emmy winner. He has also composed music for film ("Bowfinger," "Legally Blond" and "Panic") as well as stage ("Peter Pan," "Dora the Explorer" and "Thomas the Tank Engine").

On the other side of the holidays, Minucci is eager to begin introducing the music from "All Stars" to listeners. "I think it's a really interesting sounding record. All over the place stylistically as I always do, but I enjoy that aspect. It was really intensive making this record."

"All Stars" contains the following songs:
"Mr. Marzipan" "Wake Up"
"Sunset Passion Juice" "Sweet Memories Of You"
"Hanky Panky Boys" "Kampala"
"Little Wing" "Great Escape (part 1)"
"Empathy" "Great Escape (part 2)"
"Two Dancing" "Flows Like Water"
"Arise" "One Stick And A Stone"

Catch Special EFX featuring Chieli Minucci on tour on the following dates (partial list below):
January 24 & 25 Bermuda Jazz Festival Devonshire, Bermuda
February 13 Yoshi's Oakland Oakland, CA
February 15 Spaghettini Seal Beach, CA
February 16 Aliante Casino Hotel & Spa N. Las Vegas, NV
February 18 Blues Alley Washington, DC
February 19 Middle C Jazz Charlotte, NC
February 20 Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts Winter Park, FL
February 21 & 22 The Velvet Note Alpharetta, GA
March 11 Dakota Jazz Club Minneapolis, MN
March 12 Soiled Dove Underground Denver, CO
March 13 The Sofia Sacramento, CA
March 14 Tower Theatre Fresno, CA
March 21 Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts Melbourne, FL
April 2-4 Boscov's Berks Jazz Festival Reading, PA
April 11 The Cutting Room New York, NY
For more information and the complete concert itinerary, please visit https://www.specialefxmusic.com and https://chielimusic.com.






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