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Chieli Minucci & Special EFX — Without You

Oct. 2, 2010

With a mixed bag of powerful fusion with strong world influences and other fine exercises in free expression coupled with good ol’ funky and slick smooth jazz, well-traveled and well-polished guitarist Chieli Minucci and his most proficient band of esteemed comrades, Special EFX, present a quality 2-CD set of rereleased and newly released tracks, entitled Without You, as the band celebrates 25 years of musical enchantment and extraordinary journeys.

In addition to Minucci’s signature blistering riffs and the band’s penchant for diversity, the project comes enhanced with strong vocals like those found on “Love’s Lost in Translation,” performed by Philip Hamilton, and “Hushabye,” which was originally released as the instrumental “Sweet Surrender” in 2007 but transformed here by the marvelous vocals of Will Brock.

When you listen to tracks that exhibit a band’s or artist’s impeccable and oft complex timing and creative phrasings (e.g., “Wonderboy”), you have to truly appreciate just how much insight some artists simply must have in order to make some things work.
 
Keyboardist Jeff Lorber brings his always alluring style to “Mountina Jameroon,” keeping the intensity of this heated project up way past max.

The second (“Bonus”) CD is equally attractive, opening with a funky/jazzy mover, “You Make Me,” and strutting impressively through straight-ahead demonstrations like “July” and beyond.
 
This album should serve as no disappointment to Special EFX fans and will even serve as a reminder to the magic of the late George Jinda, Minucci’s original partner and comrade. Just listen to “Man With A Drum” and remember.

Truly a master guitarist, Minucci shines here once again, and Special EFX shows that it can easily rack up another 25 without even thinking about it.  — Ronald Jackson