Saturday, July 16, 2016

Various Artists - 1993 Gold Encore Series - "Guitar Fire!"

Being a huge fan of Larry Carlton, Special EFX, Acoustic Alchemy and The Rippingtons, I was already familiar with several of the tunes on this compilation. The smooth, even flow from one song to the next was mostly upbeat and relaxing. My favorites on this album were the adventurous "Essence" by Kevin Eubanks and the Larry Carlton/B. B. King duet "Blues for TJ" written by Larry for his son, bassist Travis James Carlton. The inclusion of "The Chief" was a bit of a head scratcher since it was taken from the album "Reunion" by vibraphonist Gary Burton. Although the song was written by Pat Metheny, it features Burton on vibraphone with a short, tasteful solo by Metheny. Minor complaints aside, this disc would be an excellent addition to any smooth jazz collection.

This very well-balanced group of nine tracks from many different contributing artists is a worthy addition to the libraries of those seeking nonthreatening guitar-oriented smooth jazz/fusion background music. It's a very even mix, with some standout numbers. Acoustic Alchemy's reading of Paul Desmond's "Take Five" has a strong funk component while not losing sight of the comfortable five-beat meter. Chieli Minucci's "Jamaica, Jamaica" (guesting the composer and George Jinda) is very nicely rendered by Special EFX in a quite frankly enticing effort. I bought the CD for that track alone, and it's well worth it. Kevin Eubanks contributes the self-penned "Essence." It's a medium tempo burner with a smoky edge. The fine "Blues for TJ" track, featuring Larry Carlton and B.B. King, closes out slightly over 45 minutes of worthy ear candy. If you buy it and don't like it, somebody you know will. 

Track Listing:

1. Smiles and Smiles to Go - Larry Carlton 5:47
2. Take Five - Acoustic Alchemy 4:38
3. Early A.M. Attitude - Dave Grusin/Lee Ritenour 4:58
4. Affair in San Miguel - Russ Freeman/The Rippingtons 5:09
5. Jamaica - Chieli Minucci/George Jinda/Special EFX Jamaica 4:04
6. The - Gary Burton Chief 4:16
7. South Beat - Rene Toledo 5:23
8. Essence - Kevin Eubanks 5:37
9. Blues for TJ - Larry Carlton/B.B. King 5:18


Larry Carlton (guitar, keyboards);
Greg Carmichael , Lee Ritenour , Nick Webb , Pat Metheny, Rene Toledo, B.B. King (guitar);
Russ Freeman (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, drums, keyboard programming);
Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar, electric guitar);
Kevin Eubanks (acoustic guitar);
Michael Bearden (flute, string synthesizer);
Brandon Fields (saxophone);
Ludwig G”tz (trombone);
Michael Orta (piano);
Joe Sample (Fender Rhodes piano);
Brian Mann (organ);
Dave Grusin, Mitchel Forman, Richard Eddy, Terry Disley (keyboards);
Terry Trotter (synthesizer);
Gary Burton (vibraphone);
Marcus Miller (electric bass, fretless bass);
Will Lee (electric bass);
Steve Bailey (fretless bass);
Orlando Jr. Hernandez, Peter Erskine (drums, percussion);
Dave Weckl, Jeff Porcaro, Rick Marotta, Carlos Vega (drums);
Tony Morales (cymbals, hi-hat);
George Jinda (cymbals, tambourine, bells, chimes);
Steve Feid, Anselmo Febles, Errol Crusher Bennett, Mario Argandona, Michael Fisher, Ralph MacDonald (percussion)