Sweet Surrender Review

artist: Chieli Minucci date: 01/16/2008 category: compact discs
Chieli Minucci: Sweet Surrender
Release Date: Feb 27, 2007
Label: Shanachie
Genres: World Fusion, Crossover Jazz
Number Of Tracks: 13
The album personifies archetypical jazz fusion, what it is and what more can be done with the genre.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 9
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overall: 9
Sweet Surrender Reviewed by: sweetpeasuzie, on january 16, 2008
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Sound: As a jazz fusion guitarist, Chieli Minucci has taken part in bringing the genre into the 21st Century with his latest release Sweet Surrender featuring his band Special EFX. Minucci & Special EFX are contemporary jazz practitioners with evidence of jazz-pop savvy, R&B/funk sensibilities, and world music eligibility in their tracks. The funk-driven melodies of Guitarzzz and Mystical are strengthen by Chieli's crisply splayed arpeggios and the saxophone glides of David Mann churning melodically with the keyboard undertones of Jay Rowe and the flirtatious R&B rhythms of bassist Jerry Brooks, percussionist Philip Hamilton, and drummer Lionel Cordew. The band delves into soft-pop motifs in the title track and Ascension which show similar melodic instincts to jazz guitarist Nils. The R&B/soul shades of Chant carve beautifully whirly guitar lines with shadows of soft rattling percussions and gently blowing keyboard lifts in the backdrop. The album continues with sensual guitar licks in pieces like Cry Of My Soul and Rush Hour (Dawn). On another side of the spectrum is the upbeat tempo and Nickelodeon-like chimes of Children's Play. This one is a toe tingler with a playful vibe and frolicking keyboard notes as the backbeat of handclaps keep a spirited pace throughout the track. The track New Bop entangles R&B with a new kind of flavor that can be described as jazz-hop. It's a cross between hip-hop and jazz with relations to funk. The Spanish accents in Chieli's guitar tones on Au Naturale have a meditative lure, nicely swirled with moments of intensity and relaxation. The album personifies archetypical jazz fusion, what it is and what more can be done with the genre. // 9

Lyrics: All of the songs are instrumentals except for a few vocals on Children's Play and Chant. Most of the vocals are gospel-like with a lot of Ahhh's and Ouuu's and Na Na Na's. The track Chant has a bit more in it's lyrics carrying religious and spiritual overtones like Oh Lord, did what you told me and I believe what I see. The melodic flutters that encompass the lyrics are sumptuous souffls with a jazz-rock consistency and world music vibe. Chieli Minucci & Special EFX makes their music to emulate the lyrical phrasing in their songs. Much like the few lyrics in their songs, the music possesses a spiritual essence that has a comfy warm center. // 9

Overall Impression: Chieli Minucci & Special EFX has come a long way since Minucci and percussionist George Jinda formed the band back in the early '80s. After Jinda passed away in 2001, it was up to Minucci to continue on and he has, bringing into the fold new instruments that have brought in new textures and music styles making this album, Sweet Surrender, a greater part of the nu-jazz movement and a continuation of jazz fusion. Minucci shows that musicians don't stop being musicians once they have reached their peak. Music continues to move on and musicians never stop being pupils in this always changing world. Sweet Surrender enables Minucci to continue being a pupil of this world and participating in it's present cycle. // 9

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