Despite his award winning contributions to the world of television and film, guitarist, composer and arranger Chieli Minucci has (with the exception of a brief period in the late nineties) been synonymous with the evolution of jazz-fusion band Special EFX. In fact it was back in 1982 when the multi talented Minucci co-founded Special EFX with percussionist George Jinda. They released the bands eponymous debut CD in 1984 yet despite artistic differences, and Jinda’s untimely death in 2001, the impact of this Grammy nominated collective on the evolution of smooth jazz remains nothing short of immense. This phenomenal musical journey shows no signs of winding down and as Special EFX moves into its 35th year of recording and touring they have recently released ‘Deep As The Night’, the band’s 21st studio recording and first on the Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm record label.
‘Deep As The Night’ opens with the title track that is entirely typical of what Special EFX have always been about. It is the start of what proves to be a beautifully melodic ride with some surprises and delights along the way. Take for example ‘Lavish’ which was not only the first signal to be offered to radio but also a chance for up and coming producer Nicholas Cole to take the reigns.
It also affords the opportunity for sax man Elan Trotman make a cameo performance while elsewhere the highly syncopated ‘Dance On The Delta’ features violin from Antione Silverman.
Later, ‘Night Shift’ takes the group into unfamiliar territory where they traverse previously undiscovered corners of the genre and the eclectic nature of the entire set is again brought into focus by the Drake inspired ‘Never Ending Love’ which gives Chieli the perfect canvas on which to paint a musical masterpiece.
‘Deep As The Night’ comes to a tumultuous conclusion with the Moody Blues inspired ‘Endless Us’ that in turn is both pensive and deeply dynamic yet in terms of personal favourites (and the latest single to be serviced to radio) the magically mellifluous ‘Another Day Another Smile’ is right up there with the best songs of 2017.
Featuring many of the normal cast of characters; Jerry Brooks bass, Lionel Cordew on drums, Jay Rowe on keys and Mino Cinelu on percussion plus guest outings from Lao Tizer and Antoine Silverman, ‘Deep As The Night’ is a seriously good collection and comes highly recommended.