Chieli Minucci

Renaissance

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    9
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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."

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