Building 24 is only half the story line for this article. The other half, and just as exciting, is the music of Chieli Minucci and Special EFX. Their newest CD, Genesis, was released in May of this year and celebrates 30 years in the business of bringing to us music so many fans love. If you're looking for enjoyment and the discovery of unforgettable music , go get a copy of the CD Genesis, and come to their live show at Building 24 on November 23rd in Reading, Pennsylvania!
So, what is Building 24? Those of you who visit Reading during the Berks Jazz Fest know there's been a special, intimate place where we regularly gather for shows and midnight jams.It's been called Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base since it first opened nearly ten years ago in the Crowne Plaza. Not only has it been an important part of the Berks Jazz Festival, but since its inception, shows have been held virtually every Thursday night featuring national, regional and local artists. This was not only Gerald Veasley's musical home, but it was a 'home away from home' for many of us who especially enjoyed visiting for dinner and great music. When the unthinkable happened last year - the end of Thursday night jazz music in the Crowne Plaza - so many of us were sadly disappointed.
Fast forward to 2013. Building 24 is the new venue has now captured our fancy as show after show has been held every week in Reading. It's in an old factory that was part of the knitting empire that once thrived in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Building 24 has been renovated to include a restaurant and bar and an inviting, intimate space dedicated to music. Every week brings its share of DJ nights and live music of all kinds. Carved out of each week's schedule are the jazz shows we love to see year-round.
Featured artists have included many of our favorites - Nick Colionne, Steve Cole, Shilts, Chuck Loeb, Keith Carlock, and of course Gerald Veasley, who has been said to be getting quite comfortable at Building 24, thankfully. November has already featured Peter White with Al Stewart and later in the month will feature Jackiem Joyner and Elan Trotman. Lao Tizer and Karen Briggs will be there in January. Fans of jazz in Berks and the surrounding area are thrilled to have a new place to gather to hear the music we love, and it's not even time for the Berks Jazz Festival! So we send a big shout out to the people who are behind the scenes arranging the live shows at this newest and popular venue in our town. If you get the feeling that John Ernesto is involved, you're so right!! John is everywhere that Jazz is in Reading...!! Thanks, John and your staff!
Now back to Chieli Minucci and Special EFX and Genesis, a phenomenal CD. It's Chieli vintage - you'll find tunes that hearken back to former days and touch on former compositions that you loved. But you'll also hear the band in all its transitions. And you'll follow the band in its evolution right up to now.
For this CD, Chieli and Special EFX members Jay Rowe, keyboards; Jerry Brooks, bass guitar; and Lionel Cordew, drums, are joined by the following outstanding performers: percussionist Mino Cinelu, drummer Omar Hakim, violinist Karen Briggs, pianist/recording artist Lao Tizer, vocalists Xu Feiyu and Victor Starksy, as well as saxophonist David Mann, who has a long history of playing with Special EFX.
'Crazy Eights' is an energetic, signature tune that serves as the upbeat introduction to the CD. It's followed by the radio single, 'Til the End of Time,' which was # 5 on Billboard and will be performed at the upcoming show at Building 24. Then comes 'Mirage,' a sweet, compelling vocal featuring Chinese vocalist Feiyu Xu; Chieli's accompaniment to a softer song like this is always impeccably tender and this is no exception. Then it's off to the new, upcoming single for 2014, 'Blue Lagoon,' which has the feel of a place of mystery with new discoveries along the way. 'Far Away' is another mesmerizing vocal, a soaring kind of song that lifts you up to a surreal place, like to the Dark Side of the Moon.
'Calico' makes me want to call this song Calico Cats in Jazz Lambada Land; it takes you back to an earlier period but with innovative composition. 'Genesis,' the title track, is a beautiful tune that puts us square in the face of Chileli's exquisite guitar playing. Then come 'So It Begins,' and for me this song stands out as the one I want to play over and over and over, never wanting it to end. What a majestic, intensely poignant tune that I believe Chieli's own father would have loved. It rises to such heights in its beginning and throughout and then, even as it fades, it holds your attention, and it is bittersweet that it has to end. 'The Haunting,' with its twists and turns, reminds me of Chieli's 'Destiny' from an earlier CD...here he incorporated Karen Briggs, and her violin work creates just the mood that seems intended. 'Your Smile, My Heaven' is shows Chieli's passionate side, and Club JZ is a great duo with Chieli and David Mann. Put them in your favorite, familiar club and it would sound just like this -- music that is awesome to dance to, thrilling the listeners and dancers with every phrase.
The last song is entitled 'Wishing.' At first I thought this song had parts that were too different from each other, until I listened a few times and noticed the quite natural flow between one section and another. Like a symphony with different movements, the tempo seems to change but only to tell another part of the unfolding story, intensely rising and falling. I came to love these changes and the faraway place the song took me to.
Genesis is a CD to listen to over and over, to take you back through time and then forward to a new future...one that reaches deep inside of you to find that you were safe in your travel. Thanks for the journey, Chieli. I'll see you and many of your fans on November 23rd!
Please visit www.chielimusic.com to learn about this multi-talented musician who takes the music of Chieli Minucci and Special EFX all over the world. For tickets to the show on November 23rd, visit www.bldg24live.com.
Beverly J. Packard
Home of the Berks Jazz Festival
Below you'll find Chieli and I 'the way we were' the first time we met.