When the COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020, Chieli Minucci had his wings clipped, abruptly pulling the plug amidst the three-time Emmy-winning and GRAMMY nominated musician-composer’s concert tour in support of his band Special EFX’s newly released album “All Stars.” As stress and uncertainty mounted, Minucci, like the rest of us, yearned for escape, peace and tranquility. His mind drifted back to when he was a teenager watching local talent play folk and classical guitar-based music in Greenwich Village’s legendary Folk City nightclub. He found the music performed at those shows to be soothing and mesmerizing. Those cherished recollections inspired Minucci to write and record his first acoustic guitar-based album, “Someone’s Singing,” out now.
Recording most of the twelve-track set in his New York City home studio proved to be calming and healing for Minucci, who wrote or co-wrote ten songs for the collection, some culled from his songbook from decades ago. Minucci produced, arranged and performed using his collection of acoustic guitars in addition to playing percussion, including a kalimba (African thumb piano). His nimble fretwork throughout is heartfelt, meditative, communicative, somber and sublime.
“I’ve been eager to share some of my more-gentle, understated playing and writing for some time now. For me, this project has a ‘spiritual’ quality: quite peaceful and even a bit folky. The concept for ‘Someone’s Singing’ was simple: keep it pristine and placid. I've been a longtime fan of acoustic guitar music, particularly folk and classical pieces,” said Minucci who took the album title from the lyrics of the opening track, an instrumental variation of the traditional “Kumbaya.”
“Someone’s Singing” is an album consisting of acoustic guitar etchings, a sparsely produced set featuring minimal accompaniment on three selections. Jerry Brooks’ probing, elastic basslines instill “New Faith,” an intimate and intricate song originally recorded in 1996. Fretless bassist Fernando Saunders brings structure to “Your Spirit,” an ethereal interlude preceding “Memories of Mother,” an emotional passage memorializing Minucci’s mother, Catherine. To him, she represented family honor and love, inspiring his silent pledge made upon her passing to facilitate peace and harmony in his own family, a goal he continues to strive towards in all relationships. Minucci’s late Special EFX partner, George Jinda, added his distinctive percussion to “Free Again,” an exquisite piece adorned by Steve Skinner’s evocative strings.
“‘Free Again’ is the last composition I wrote with the great percussionist George Jinda. His unique approach to rhythm was always a perfect match to my acoustic guitar style. Although the first section of this piece was written separately, the percussive part was completely improvised as we recorded it. Music is amazing like that, and in so many other ways,” said Minucci.
The official release of “Someone’s Singing” begins a prolific year for Minucci who will release Special EFX’s 40th anniversary album, “Twenty Twenty 2,” an elaborate production recorded with an army of collaborating musicians, on April 15 with a supporting concert itinerary that kicks off in mid-March.
“‘Someone's Singing’ stands in striking contrast to what I've been doing with Special EFX for all these years,” said Minucci, a busy band leader, film and television composer who has been releasing solo albums since the mid-nineties.
Minucci is a ten-time Emmy nominee who has written music for the small screen (“The Guiding Light,” “Dancing With The Stars,” “American Idol” and the “Good Morning America” theme), silver screen (“Bowfinger”, “Legally Blonde” and “Panic”), radio (Bloomberg Radio theme), and stage (live productions of “Peter Pan,” “Dora the Explorer” and “Thomas the Tank Engine”).” Beyond his band and solo projects, Minucci’s gifted guitarwork has afforded him extraordinary opportunities to record or perform with iconic artists including Celine Dion, Lou Reed, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Jewel, Mark Anthony, Michael Bolton and Eartha Kitt as well as his contemporary jazz colleagues Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, Mindi Abair, Rick Braun, Marion Meadows, Omar Hakim and many others. For more information, please visit https://chielimusic.com.
“Someone’s Singing” contains the following songs:
“Someone’s Singing (Kumbaya)”
“Dreaming Little Drummer Boy”
“Forks in the Road”
“Cup of Love”
“Memories of Mother”