Special EFX was
originally founded by drummer
and percussionist George Jinda and guitarist Chieli Minucci
in 1982. The musical concept of the group changed from world
fusion to contemporary jazz and smooth jazz. After the 22nd Special EFX album Deep As The
Night (2017), released on the Trippin ‘N’
Rhythm record label the group returns with the new album
All Stars (2020) on the same label.
The new album features Chieli Minucci on guitars, keyboards,
beats, accompanied by Steve Adelson (Chapman Stick), Joel
Rosenblatt, Lionel Cordew
(drums), Jerry Brooks,
(bass), Fernando Saunders (fretless bass), David Mann
(saxophone, flute, horn arrangements), Nelson Rangell
(saxophone, flute), Eric Marienthal (saxophone), Jay Rowe,
(acoustic grand piano, keyboards), Maysa Leak (vocals),
Regina Carter, Antoine
(violin), Lin Rountree, Tatum
(trumpet, flugelhorn), Mino Cinélu (percussion), and Mike
The music was composed, produced and arranged by Chieli
Minucci except Little Wing, composed by Jimi
Hendrix. The album is opened with Mr. Marzipan.
Although marzipan in itself is a sweet and soft substrate,
this piece is characterized by a tight horn arrangement into
which Chieli pushes his guitar staccato-like.
On Sunset Passion Juice Chieli is joined by David
Mann in the creation of the ultimate acoustic candy.
Hanky Panky Boys, the first single release, brings us
back down to earth. Key ingredients are organ, a big bunch
of horns and some strong guitar riffs. Eric Marienthal shows
in his solo why he is called one of the best saxophonists of
The blues-inspired ballad Little Wing was written
by Jimi Hendrix in 1967 who ingeniously fused voice and
guitar into a creative unity. This cover splits the music
into parts shared by vocalist Maysa, guitarist Chieli and
saxophonist Nelson Rangell. Empathy is the ability
to share the feelings of another, a quality that
characterizes our humanity. This tune has the emotional
intensity to set the human soul in vibrations.
Two Dancing is predestined to serve as the musical
basis for a good tempered dance. It is no coincidence that
this effect is further enhanced by the two violinists Regina
Silverman. Arise is a short interlude that touches
the soul through the moving interplay of piano, violin and
Wake Up is a pulsating groove which, with Chieli
Minuci on guitar and Neslon Rangell on saxophone, brings two
trump cards into play. Sweet Memories of You is a
lyrical interplay featuring Chieli on nylon electric guitar.
A tribute to his mom, who passed away in the time, when he
wrote the song.
Kampala was written on a borrowed acoustic
guitar in a Ugandan hotel room during a concert tour. Isn't
this the best way to process the impressions gained during
the tour? Remarkably, two pianists, Jay Rowe and Lao Tizer,
are engaged for this piece, which in its dynamics is
strongly reminiscent of Pat Metheny's older style.
Great Escape is a piece structured in two parts,
the first a short introduction, the second the main theme.
With this piece Chieli goes back to the time when epic
themes dominated the music market and also influenced his
musical understanding. Flows Like Water has a
jazzier approach and is at the same time also a yardstick of
the technical progress that the group has undergone during
the period of their interaction.
One Stick and A Stone is a collaboration of Chieli
and Steve Adelson who plays the Chapman Stick. This
twelve-string instrument was invented by Emmett Chapman in
the early seventies. Chieli uses as beats the speaking
drums, known by late partner George Jinda in the early time
of Special EFX and on his own albums George
Jinda and World News.
The new album All Stars by Special EFX covers the
whole range of creativity of Chieli Minucci's band. As
different as musical tastes may be, there is a multitude of
connections for everyone, with which the listener can
identify. A grandiose project and piece of
contemporary jazz history.