In my experience as an active music enthusiast, I have yet to discover an artist who can more cleverly merge such diverse styles of music not only onto a single album, but also within each individual song. Guitarist Chieli Minucci creatively hints at his vast musical influence and repertoire with his epic new release Without You.

The album opens with a very intriguing rhythmic, almost world-music styled piece entitled “Quivering”. Described by Minucci as “mischievous”, the opening piece fuses a fusion-influenced melody with a somewhat Middle Eastern track. The first piece makes a fantastic introduction to the album; Without You musically transverses the globe and generations of musical style in 22 songs and 2 discs.

Chieli constantly throws curveballs at his listeners with his new album. This includes everything from incorporating violin into most of his compositions to short musical interludes between some of the longer works. Many of the pieces on Without You are modern, updated renditions of the Special EFX catalog. “You Make Me” and “You Make Me Blue” are contemporary versions of “You Make Me Smile” while the 1982 “Sambuca Nights” appears halfway through “The Night is Ours”. “Ballerina Rocks” also makes an appearance on the album as an island-style piece with an instrumental rock styled melody, not to mention several other Special EFX songs disguised in new arrangements.

Overall, the album has the perfect blend of intense, fusion, hard-driven pieces and mellow, relaxing, smooth compositions providing listeners with a diverse aural experience. With everything from orchestral film scores to Brazilian and Latin pieces, RNB-influenced vocals to electronica, any music fan will find something to enjoy.

Without You features many well-known guests including Lao Tizer, Karen Briggs, Jeff Lorber, Will Brock, Dave Anderson, and Alan Grubner. Chieli’s son, Gianluca Minucci, is also showcased on the song “Wonderboy” as both a composer and as a bassist.

Leave it to Chieli Minucci to ensure his listeners are constantly on their toes. At some point, each song harmonically, melodically (or both!) goes to a place one wouldn’t expect. Without You implements modern music style and technology to avoid the typical instrumental song format which has become too predictable and repetitive.

If it hasn’t already been added into your music playlist, I would be amiss if I didn’t recommend you doing just this! For diehard fans, the physical version of the album includes an in-depth history of the band Special EFX.

Get Without You on Amazon

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.

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