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Special EFX All Stars

October 12, 2019      8:00 pm

Chieli Minucci’s seminal contemporary jazz super group Special EFX marks their 35th year of recording and touring in 2018 with the release of Deep As The Night, their 21st studio recording, and first celebrating their recent partnership with the Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm record label. Formed in 1982 as the brainchild of the duo of guitarist Chieli Minucci and percussionist George Jinda, the combination of Chieli’s edgy & melodic driving style and George’s sense for temperament and rhythm struck a perfect balance, the rise of a distinctive new and original sound that incorporated heavy percussive world elements fused with smart, energetic, playful and memorable guitar lines was formed.

Now the leader and driving force behind the band, Chieli has recorded and performed over the years with some of pop music’s biggest: Celine Dion, Lou Reed, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Bolton, Marc Anthony, as well as some of the jazz genre elites, from Jeff Lorber to Kirk Whalum. Honored with a Grammy nomination for their Modern Manners CD, 3 Emmy wins and 10 nominations for his compositional work on The Guiding Light, his works in both film and television are well-recognized, from writing and contributing music to Dancing With The Stars, American Idol, Good Morning America, as well as the soundtracks for No Country for Old Men, Bowfinger, Legally Blonde, and Panic.

American Idol star and vocalist Elliott Yamin had no vocal training and was 90 percent deaf in his right ear, yet he vaulted to stardom after becoming a third-place finalist on American Idol. Elliot Yamin’s style is perfect for a smooth jazz festival — soulful with a jazz/R&B style. His debut album made it to #1 on the Billboard Charts. Yamin was featured in a nationwide American Idol Tour, performing live in front of half a million fans. Elliott launched his recording career following his appearance on American Idol as one of the top three finalists. His highly-anticipated self-titled album, Elliott Yamin, debuted at Number 3 on the Billboard album chart and was the highest-debuting album by an independent artist in Sound Scan history. The self-titled disc achieved gold status in the U.S. and Japan, yielding the platinum hit, “Wait for You.” Hailed as one of the best male vocalists, Elliott would go on to release three more albums.

Saxophonist Eric Marienthal started his professional career in 1980 with famed New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt. After returning to Los Angeles, Eric became a member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band. He recorded six albums with that band, and two of them won Grammy Awards. Six of the songs that Marienthal has recorded have made it to the top 10 of the National Contemporary Jazz Radio Charts, and two have made it to No. 1. His Oasis album hit the top 5 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Shortly after that, he was voted one of the year’s “Favorite Alto Sax Players” in Jazziz Magazine‘s Readers’ Poll. Marienthal has also written instructional books, including Comprehensive Jazz Studies & Exercises, The Ultimate Jazz Play Along, and The Music of Eric Marienthal and instructional videos, including Play Sax From Day One, Modern Sax, and Tricks of the Trade.

Karen Briggs, also known as the “Lady in Red,” is an American violinist. Born in Manhattan to a family of musicians, Briggs took up the violin at age 12 and committed to playing professionally at age 15. Briggs joined the Virginia Symphony while still in college, but grew discontented with performing classical music and left the orchestra after four years. Since then, she has performed predominantly in the jazz and contemporary instrumental genres. Best known for spending thirteen years on tour with contemporary instrumental musician Yanni, Briggs received the “Lady in Red” moniker while featuring as a soloist on Yanni’s Live at the Acropolis tour. After parting with Yanni in 2004, she toured with other groups including the short-lived jazz fusion group Vertú. Briggs has performed at such locations as Carnegie Hall and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and has performed or collaborated with Dave Grusin, Diana Ross, the Wu Tang clan, En Vogue, and Chaka Khan.

Keyboardist Lao Tizer is one of today’s rising stars of the world-fusion genre. Tizer’s original music has spurred comparisons of a modern twist to the 1970s and early 1980s heyday of jazz fusion, when trailblazing ensembles like Return To Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Weather Report set the aesthetic standard. Lao’s music has a multi-genre, multi-national appeal and his group, The Lao Tizer Band, has toured the USA and the world while being nominated Jazz Group of the Year! Their new 2018 CD/DVD combo release, Songs From The Swinghouse, has received acclaim across the industry while debuting near the top of the Billboard Jazz Album Chart!

Known for his solid & classic “no treble” approach to playing, Jerry Brooks has been the longtime bassist for Special EFX for over 25 years. His credits include almost all the Special EFX and Chieli Minucci CDs, as well as tops artists such as Alicia Keys, Will Downing, D’Angelo, Lenny White, Bobby Lyle, Kim Waters, Omar Hakim, Chuck Loeb, as well as Destiny’s Child.

Joel Rosenblatt is a world-renowned drummer and producer. He has performed and recorded with such greats as: Spyro Gyra, Special EFX, Lee Ritenour, Freddy Jackson, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Eileen Ivers, Michel Camilo, Chick Corea, Steps Ahead, Paquito D’Rivera, Manhattan Transfer, Randy Brecker, Ken Navarro, Bill Evans, and many more. Having toured the world many times over, Joel brings an international musical awareness to the music. Currently the owner and main engineer at world class CliffSound Productions, Joel is also actively involved in producing and cultivating new artists.

Legend is an understatement. Sit with master-of-all-trades Mino Cinélu in any café and more likely than not, a record will come on that he’s played on. Sting, Miles Davis, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, Marcus Miller, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Pat Metheny, Taylor Dane, Branford Marsalis, and Cassandra Wilson are just a tiny selection of the international pop and jazz stars that Mino has worked with since the ‘80s.

Whether playing percussion, drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, or singing, Mino brings his signature infectious personality full of warmth and joie de vivre, coupled with decades of intense study in a wide variety of styles from around the world — from the streets of Paris, to the Mississippi delta, to the Caribbean island of Martinique. He’s equally comfortable being the consummate accompanist as well as being the center of attention, and can command an extensive ensemble as well as performing his own breathtaking one-man-band show.