December 26, 2004

Jamie Bonk - My World

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.

New on The Secret Garden’s horizons this time around is a thoroughly enjoyable new release from Toronto based guitarist / composer Jamie Bonk.

jamiebonk3.jpgMy World is his third release, has been three years in the making and is a piece of work that he considers to be his most collaborative to date. His recording history started back in 1997 when his self-tiled debut album was released in Canada and the following year in the USA. It was voted the New Age Voice (NAV) Radio Album Of The Year in 1999 and remains as NAV’s Airwaves Top 100 longest charting CD. Its eighteen-month stay on the charts was almost seven months longer than the previous record holder Loreena McKennitt with her Book Of Secrets release.

Frequent travelers in Canada and North America may be more familiar with Jamie’s music than they think. Both Jamie Bonk and his second release, A Perfect Tomorrow, have been played as part of many in flight audio programs with participating airlines including Asiana, TWA, US Airways, America West, American and Canadian. Air Canada used Jamie Bonk in its entirety as boarding music through out 1998.

All this is a far cry from Queens University, which Jamie entered as a music composition student back in 1983. Perhaps Jamie’s most influential teacher at Queens was composition professor Bruce Pennycook who enabled him to experiment with first generation MIDI sequencers, samplers and synthesizers. It was in 1986, while still at Queens that Bonk won the silver medal in the electro acoustic category of the CAPAC competition. After graduation he started his musical career in Toronto where he played for local bands, played studio guitar, programmed for a multitude of album projects and even composed film scores for Heart Of The Forest for Lindrian Films and Brenda Longfellow’s Our Marilyn.

Throughout the 90’s Jamie was Associate Guitar Instructor at the Toronto Guitar Institute and combined this with the composition and production of corporate video soundtracks for companies such as Manulife and Cadillac Fairview.

Since 1997, and the formation, with his father, of Bonk Productions he has been producing, promoting and distributing his own special style of music. My World carries this journey on with eleven interesting tracks that are certain to find a place on the adult contemporary scene. The listener is immediately engaged by the extremely bright start that the title track makes. It’s a Latin flavored piece that displays a tight beat throughout and settles into an excellent melody. Track #2, ‘This Is It’ is of slower tempo, incorporates production of a quality that prevents the strong back beat from becoming overpowering and really builds to a climax. The first vocal contribution is heard on track #4 with Ron Scott doing the honors on ‘If This Is Love’, a rock ballad with good lyrics and nice overall feel that deserves to make it a winner.

‘Looking In’ (#5), and ‘What I Never Said’ (#9) are what can be classed as routine pieces of smooth jazz guitar but are none the worse for it. ‘Wiggle’ is at #6 and that’s just what Bonk does with deft playing on what is an out and out feel good number while the lower key ‘Third Time’ has nostalgia running right through it, an evocation of something lost, or perhaps something rediscovered.

Ron Scott features again on track #8 with a cover of ‘Nights On Broadway’, which is fine, but then again there will only ever one Bee Gees. ‘Centre Tone’, an up temp jazz flavored tune, features another vocal, this time by Shelley Hamilton, while the album closes out with ‘Waiting For Winter’, a sleepy sitting by the fire side piece that leaves a warm feeling inside.

In 2003 Jamie became a contributing editor for NewAgeReporter.com. His artist-to-artist conversation series has featured many top name artists in the contemporary instrumental genre. It’s a long hard climb in the ultra competitive environment of smooth jazz guitar to get up there with those leading stars. With My World Jamie Bonk is staking a claim to his very own place in the top flight.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this latest edition of Secret Garden? Do you have a favorite Smooth Soul Survivor that you would enjoy being featured in a future edition? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at December 26, 2004 4:10 PM