George Jinda must have forgotten he was doing his latest Special EFX project, because his use of an all-star cast on Here to Stay might be better suited to one of those Fantasy Band discs he was involved in before his debilitating stroke. Not that there's anything sonically wrong with the mainly mellow fare on this disc -- Mark Whitfield, Chuck Loeb, and Gerald Veasley do stellar jobs conveying the melodic thoughts over Jinda's gentle percussion. The few burning dance tunes make an effective, bass driven in your face counterpoint as well. But as fine as a romantic saxman as Warren Hill is, it makes no sense to relegate the brilliant young Mark Johnson to keyboards on all but one track. Johnson's horns have been integral to the band's new sound, and it seems wrong to limit him. So while the album is as engaging and listenable as any Special EFX project since the departure of founding guitarist Chieli Minucci, there's no real Special EFX stamp on any of it. It's as if Jinda and Johnson just happened by someone else's party and started jamming along.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran