Title - Twenty Twenty 2
Artist - Special EFX feat. Chieli Minucci
Celebrating a 40th anniversary is a big deal, especially when it comes to the longevity of a band so when Covid forced contemporary jazz group Special EFX featuring Chieli Minucci to abandon their concert tour midflight in March 2020, Minucci retreated to his NYC home studio and began work writing, producing and recording an album to commemorate the outfit’s milestone occasion.
Thus, Twenty Twenty 2 arrives on April 22nd, 2022.
Minucci, a three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy nominated guitarist-composer-producer-arranger, teamed with Hungarian percussionist George Jinda to form Special EFX in 1982, a bountiful partnership that ushered the band to the top of the charts, saw them embark on extensive concert tours with stops at some of the most prestigious jazz festivals in the world, and crafted a distinctive brand of music that incorporates jazz, rock, fusion, blues, pop and world music.
Although Jinda died in 2001, the release of Twenty Twenty 2 celebrates the enduring legacy of what he and Minucci built together that continues to thrive today via the guitarist’s fervent vision and creative force.
Twenty Twenty 2 consists of eleven new Minucci compositions, most of which were written during the first year of the pandemic. The album includes two reimagined songs from Minucci’s catalogue that were expanded and given new twists.
1. “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”
2. “Gonna Be Alright”
3. “Slow Hands”
5. “Folks Like Us”
6. “Ceili Music”
7. “Everything & Anything”
8. “Novembers Child”
10. “Ballerina Dreams”,br>
11. “I’m Leaving You”
14. “Words Left Unsaid”
This vibrantly heartfelt, sonically charged, and wholesomely embracing new recording opens on the charged summer breeze of the near nine-minute remake of The Allman Brothers Band’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” (and which is now given the Special EFX gloss) and then comes the funky delights of “Gonna Be Alright” and then we get the reflective “Slow Hands”, the joyous odes to fusion within “Showboat”, the reflective balladry of “Folks Like Us”, the playful, handclapping Irish romp “Ceili Music”, before next brought to the musical fore is “Everything & Anything” (a refresh of “Anything & Everything” penned thirty years ago, now featuring a sweet and soulful saxophone solo by Grammy winner Eric Marienthal).
Up next is a courteous nod to the productions and arrangements of global pop artists like Zedd and Max Martin on the joyously uplifting swirls and twirls of “Novembers Child” and the crafted fervency of the short but sweet “December” which are themselves followed by the cultured “Ballerina Dreams” (which at over seven minutes long and recorded live at the SiriusXM studio prior to the lockdown, is a sprawling 1989 piece that frees Minucci’s guitar to plier and pirouette with passion and grace) and then comes the coursing, exhilarant guitar work of “I’m Leaving You”, the .50 second drum expose “Kampalino”, the album rounding out on the espionage-imbibed rhythms within “Homeland”, coming to a righteous close on the searing guitar work found within “Words Left Unsaid.”
Minucci and his extended band - seventeen musicians perform on Twenty Twenty 2 in addition to the guitarist – broke from standard Special EFX recording practices.
“Special EFX has traditionally been a live-in-the-studio band for most of its years. But because of the world health crisis, that option wasn’t available. So, as many artists also experienced recently, the music was sometimes recorded one part, one musician at a time. This was a new experience for me,” said Minucci who acknowledges that “Ballerina Dreams” and “Ceili Music” are exceptions that were recorded live.
Twenty Twenty 2 showcases Minucci on acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, synths, beats, shaker and vocals. Making appearances on the album are keyboardists Lao Tizer, Jay Rowe and Oli Silk; saxophonists Marienthal, Nelson Rangell and Richie Cannata; violinist Antoine Silverman; trumpeter Lin Rountree; bassists Jerry Brooks, Ric Fierabracci, Dave Anderson and Gianluca Minucci; drummers Joel Rosenblatt, Lionel Cordew and John Favicchia; and percussionist Mino Cinélu.
“I once read that composing is like an energy wave passing through one’s body: first from above, through the mind, then through the body, and finally out the hand, off into the world for all to share. I still feel that same excitement about music that I experienced as a child, more than ever perhaps,” said Minucci who has written music for television (“The Guiding Light,” “Dancing With The Stars,” “American Idol” and the “Good Morning America” theme), movies (“Bowfinger,” “Legally Blonde,” “Snake Eyes” and “Panic”), radio (Bloomberg Radio theme), and theater (live productions of “Peter Pan,” “Dora the Explorer” and “Thomas the Tank Engine”).
Special EFX featuring Minucci recently launched their 2022 concert itinerary with shows in Minneapolis and Denver to set the stage for Twenty Twenty 2.
The band has dates booked through October and includes Boscov’s Berks Jazz Festival (April 2, 3 and 10), Winter Park Jazz Festival (July 16) and the Vail Jazz Festival (July 17). Special EFX will be in Houston, TX (Sugar’s Cajun Cuisine) the day Twenty Twenty 2 streets and at Southern California hotspot Spaghettini the following night.
“My hope is that music lovers will listen to ‘Twenty Twenty 2’ from top to bottom, as is, in the order I chose to sequence it in - kind of like how we all did back in the day, before streaming and websites,” said Minucci who earlier this year released the solo acoustic guitar album, Someone’s Singing.
Catch Special EFX featuring Chieli Minucci on tour in 2022:
March 31 - Annapolis, MD Ramshead Tavern
April 1 - Richmond, VA The Tin Pan
April 2 - Reading, PA Berks Jazz
Festival Midnight Jam
April 3 - Reading, PA Berks Jazz Festival
April 10 - Reading, PA Berks Jazz Festival/Friends of Nick Colionne>br>
April 22 - Houston, TX Sugar’s Cajun Cuisine
April 23 - Los Angeles, CA Spaghettini
April 29 & 30 - Tarrytown, NY Jazz Forum Arts
May 6 - Baltimore, MD Montpelier Arts Center
June 5 - Saratoga Springs, NY Caffe Lena
June 12 - San Diego, CA San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival
June 17 - Birmingham, AL Steel City Jazz Festival
June 18 & 19 - Atlanta, GA Velvet Note
July 16 - Denver, CO Winter Park Jazz Festival
July 22 - Pittsburgh, PA Allegheny County Sound Park Bandshell
July 23 - Augusta, GA Capture the Rhythm Art and Jazz Series
August 6 - Portland, OR Vanport Jazz Festival
August 25 - Branford, CT Branford Town Green
October 28 - Miami, FL Miami Smooth Jazz Festival
October 29 - Charlotte, NC Middle C Jazz
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