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. Hanky Panky Boys is the first single off the set.
“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.
Catch Special EFX featuring Chieli Minucci on tour on the following dates
January 24 & 25 Bermuda Jazz Festival
February 13 Yoshi’s Oakland Oakland, CA
February 15 Spaghettini Seal Beach, CA
February 16 Aliante Casino Hotel & Spa 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 Melbourne, FL
April 2-4 Boscov’s Berks Jazz Festival Reading, PA
April 11 The Cutting Room New York, NY