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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | ChieliMusic

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The founding Special EFX member and guitarist established his own identity as a solo artist with Jewels, which balanced fusion, funk, acid jazz, and the type of fiery playing the New York native is known for in his live performances. Renaissance finds him returning to his smooth rock/jazz roots, evoking the classic, exotic Special EFX imagery in romantic exploration of his most heartfelt emotions. Whereas the first CD's intention seemed to give listeners a peek at a wide array of Minucci's stylistic capabilities, this one focuses more on atmosphere, vibe, romance, and seduction. Minucci's exuberant musical tales grab hold from the opening strains of "Big Sky Country," which blends a soulful, percussive hip-hop groove with atmospheric synth hypnosis and his trademark soaring guitar lines. Another key track is a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Cause We've Ended As Lovers," given here a bluesy, Stevie Ray Vaughn-type reading as a lush, haunting slice of melancholy. There are a lot of twists and turns, but Minucci shows that he can make strong emotional points without a lot of fanfare on the lush acoustic guitar-led closer "Faith." © Jonathan Widran /TiVo

Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | JVC Musical Industries

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Over the past few years, Chieli Minucci has faced breakups of the two marriages that defined most of his entire adult life -- both from his wife and, more to the musical point, from percussionist George Jinda, his longtime partner in the band Special EFX. It's Gonna Be Good, the guitarist's third solo album, is an aggressive, multi-faceted, self exploratory work -- a musical testament to the notion of moving on with a positive attitude. Though parting ways with Jinda was a bit of a tightrope walk for Minucci -- the duo was for years one of the genre's most popular outfits -- he's conquered his own doubts by attacking fresh ideas that reflect the full range of his musical tastes. Not to say that Minucci doesn't, on occasion, pay homage to his roots. The slappin' live percussion, combined with the easy blend of Armsted Christian's wordless vocals with subdued electric guitar on "Endless Summer" smacks of a Special EFX outtake. But overall, Minucci charges into meatier territories like acid jazz, trip-hop, rock fusion, Delta blues, even Indian music -- mostly over ultra-hip, fully urban machine-generated grooves. The effect is a bit scattered, with Minucci playing kid in a stylistic candy store, and yet that sharp mix of R&B grooves runs throughout. This makes for a less hodge-podge experience than Jewels, his first post-Special EFX recording in 1995. That album, an attempt by Minucci to reflect for the first time all the different facets of himself, included new age-flavored pieces and a reggae jam. While he took a more laid-back approach to most of the material on 1996's Renaissance, Minucci here offers a complete picture of himself within the context of machine-generated rhythms. While "Dreams," the sugary duet with saxman Warren Hill, will help this disc's commercial potential, Minucci goes much deeper. He digs into the many layers of his musical identity by connecting three distinct areas of interest into a whole -- "Beginnings," on which he noodles around and improvises on an electric nylon while finding the right key; "On the Border (Part 1)," where he taps lightly into folk music over a shuffling hip-hop groove; and "On the Border (Parts 2, 3)," a potent rock jam and culmination featuring a sly conversation with Regina Carter's violin. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo

Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | JVC Musical Industries

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Based on Special EFX's eclectic artistic output since switching from GRP to JVC in 1996, longtime followers of veteran pop-jazz/worldbeat duo Chieli Minucci and George Jinda are no doubt wondering what happened to the classic sound they knew and loved. First, percussion madman Jinda put out two solo albums with his own band, World News. Then he meets hip hop-drenched saxman Mark Johnson, produces his two discs, and lets him take over the soundscapes of Special EFX's urban-bloated latest release, Catwalk. Minucci's response? Jewels, an amazing voyage into the furthest recesses of the guitarist's heart, covering paths once traveled in tandem with Jinda, as well as edgier areas which don't fit into the band's street vibe. The art of the Jewels is that Minucci doesn't have to settle on one particular mode, like so many contemporary instrumentals feel they have to. Confident in his ability to master fiery Beck-like roaring rockers ("Dig the Dirt") as well as blues, funk, and tough-spirited acid jazz, Minucci weaves across every dimension of emotional import. A few tunes will please EFX fans with their breezy, midtempo energy, but more often than not, his acrobatic strings fly without benefit of a comfortable net. Cases in point: the ethereal "Mountains" (written by his father), the jamming reggae cover of "Sitting in Limbo") featuring a bouncy vocal by Johnny Kemp), and the four-part, nine-minute title extravaganza, which takes Minucci down a highway of burning passion and detours into the wayward expanses of a soul raised on '70s rock radio. In so doing, Minucci reaches higher evolutionary ground than does any of his fine work in his years collaborating with Jinda. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo

Jazz - Released June 20, 2005 | Shanachie

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Just as Ed Hamilton played it cool and safe when he signed on with Shanachie for Groovology, Chieli Minucci's solo debut for the label features a bit less edge, a bit more pop, and much more of a kick back vibe than his early solo efforts for JVC. It's not that Sweet on You lacks adventure; it's simply a more in the pocket variety. Whereas in the past, he might wow us with wacky multi-movement jam sessions, on tunes like "Hot 100" he opens with an hypnotic, swaying atmosphere, then bursts into a staccato melody featuring muted electric guitar, synth vibes, and horns over a punchy live percussion pattern. The middle of the track features some easy improvisation over a drifting atmosphere featuring a subtle blues keyboard harmony. While past albums featured elongated spiritual passages loaded with space, Minucci's equivalent here is "Breaking Away," which features a gently soaring duet with pianist Jay Rowe that smacks of the Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays approach over a subtle locomotive throb. Minucci also mines wah-wah inflected retro-soul turf on "Around the World," and hits smooth jazz pay dirt on the very Special EFX like "Endless Summer," and the Brazilian tinged title cut, whose easy wordless vocals by Rosanna Vitro make it sound like a classic Joyce Cooling cut. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo

New Age - Released January 1, 2008 | Watchfire Music

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Comedy/Other - Released January 1, 2008 | Watchfire Music

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Jazz - Released June 20, 2005 | Shanachie

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Jazz - Released January 7, 2003 | Shanachie

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Jazz - Released April 11, 2000 | Shanachie

Children - Released May 16, 2018 | FirstCom Music

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Country - Released March 5, 2014 | FirstCom Music

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Country - Released May 26, 2020 | FirstCom Music

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New Age - Released August 7, 2014 | FirstCom Music

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Pop/Rock - Released March 21, 2019 | FirstCom Music

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Pop - Released July 26, 2013 | FirstCom Music

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Contemporary Jazz - Released December 14, 1998 | FirstCom Music

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Electronic - Released January 17, 2019 | FirstCom Music

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Pop - Released October 26, 2012 | FirstCom Music

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Classical - Released June 23, 2017 | FirstCom Music

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Classical - Released June 17, 1999 | FirstCom Music

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