Artist: Chieli Minucci & Special EFX
Genre: Smooth Jazz / Fusion
Quality: mp3, VBR V0
Crazy Eights (3:49)
Till The End Of Time (5:24)
Blue Lagoon (4:09)
Far Away (4:29)
So It Begins (4:38)
The Haunting (9:13)
Your Smile My Heaven (7:25)
Club J Z (4:04)
Wishing (Wishing, Piroutte, Pas des Deux (7:52)
Those who have followed Special EFX since the group’s early years know that guitarist Chieli Minucci has never been short on vision. He and his late partner George Jinda Chieli Minucci delighted contemporary jazz fans with material that sparkled and inspired. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Chieli Minucci and Special EFX step forward with a tight, diverse, and creative project called Genesis, due for release on May 21. It is an apt title, considering that the group captures the very essence of what it has done from its very beginning — satisfy. Combining fusion and funk, blues and rock with new age, and simply embodying all things jazz, Minucci and company pack this release with some of the most well-conceived original tracks in the band’s history.
In addition to stellar performances by his core band, Minucci gets quality help on select tracks from guests Lao Tizer (acoustic piano), David Mann (sax and flute), Omar Hakim (drums), Karen Briggs (violin), Xu Feiyu (vocals), Mino Cinelu (percussion), and Vic Starsky (vocals).
What makes this top-tier group so special and longstanding? Minucci says, “One of the reasons we have been able to maintain our popularity is because we have evolved and changed over the years. When the band first started, we had a heavy world music influence. Later, we highlighted more of an acid-jazz sound, as well as some progressive fusion-rock thrown in for good measure. When people hear our music, they can expect to hear a little of everything!” How true. In fact, in listening to this project, I immediately heard some of the abstract stylings found in the music of the iconic rock group Pink Floyd years ago. The track here called “Far Away” comes to mind, and visions of guitarist David Gilmour’s runs especially came rushing in as I listened to Minucci’s hauntingly beautiful 7-minute track “Your Smile, My Heaven.” Truly a work of art.
Of course, two or three tracks do not a great album make. You will hear so much quality and eclecticism throughout this album that you may have a hard time choosing a fave, as was and is my case.
From the up-tempo funky, kinda bluesy, and spirited lead track “Crazy Eights” to the cool and super jazzy “Till the End of Time” to the island groove of “Calico” to the previously mentioned and riveting “Your Smile, My Heaven” and beyond, the band once again does justice to music as a whole.
Genesis is indeed a great celebration of quality Special EFX contemporary jazz, and Minucci leaves no room for doubt. – Ronald Jackson