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G-Fire: Hot Jazz on a Low Flame
By Ben Ohmart
(more articles from this author)
2003-08-18
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Four of the worlds top touring and session guitarist were assembled to bring you one of the most compelling and diverse CD projects that you will ever hear. These talented artists are literally "the guitars behind the stars" working with multi-grammy award, music award winning artist.

G-Fire is an ambitious album. For those of us in love with the sound of the electric guitar, but wish it wasn't marred by words and loud strokes all the time, comes a set of 12 tracks in 4 groups. Each man - Vernon Neilly, Morris O'Connor, Kevin Chokan, and Miguel Mega - is given 3 tracks to write, arrange, produce and perform.

"Flight to Ecstasy" (Neilly)
"Little Sun Flower" (O'Connor)
"Do Da" (Chokan)
"Wooded" (Mega)
"Moonlight in Paradise" (Neilly)
"B-Town" (O'Connor)
"Fanci Panz" (Chokan)
"Rice N Beans" (Mega)
"Passion Quest" (Neilly)
"Inside Out" (O'Connor)
"Passin Thru" (Chokan)
"Sun Down Blues" (Mega)

But if you close your eyes and just listen to the soft swing of the blues mixed with groove, heavily covered with a thick jazz sauce, then it's mighty hard to tell one composer from another. No wonder these guys hooked up. They could all be musical brothers, with a love for the lite sound of rock and a polished passion for what is essentially another very fine progressive rock disc. But however you label it, these expansive, but radio-length-friendly tracks are incredibly conducive to whatever event is going through your life.

If you're looking for the funky side of street-strutin', then "Fanci Panz" is certainly your Saturday night fever. If you've got a babe or stud in the house, nothing will put them in the mood better than the stringy softness of "B-Town" and that sweet solo guitar and cool rhythm. Then there's that Eric Clapton side of moody blues and pop in "Rice N Beans" that puts a hot and slow midnight cover over the club that's winding down for the patrons, but only just heating up for the players' own jam.

MP3: Flight To Ecstacy | Little Sunflower

The disc was put together by executive producer Vernon Neilly, who has recorded with, toured with, and produced for some of the most legendary names in the music business such as the late blues legend Johnny Guitar Watson, Pee Wee Crayton, Charles 'Merry Christmas' Brown, Mary Wells, The Dramatics, and others. He runs his own record label, Boosweet Records. You can find out more about what he's doing at www.boosweet.com.

But just what IS G-Fire? Says Neilly, "G-Fire is the moniker that stands for guitars on fire, and I chose that name because of the great guitar talent that appears on this CD. Besides myself, I have assembled some of the top touring and session guitarists in the music industry today. Morris O'Connor who has been playing with, and still plays with, legendary artists Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, but who has also worked and recorded with En Vogue, The Gap Band, Jazz Crusaders, Jody Whatly, and many, many more artists.

"Then there is Kevin Chokan, musical director for Diana Ross, who's also been playing with R&B superstar Jeffrey Osborne for years. Kevin recorded on Jeffrey's new solo project that is out now. In addition, Kevin has worked with Phillip Bailey (Earth Wind and Fire), George Duke, Chaka Khan, Stephanie Mills, Jennifer Lopez, and many, many more. To put the icing on the cake, there is one of the hottest guitar players in Brazil right now Miguel Mega who has had 3 solo projects of his own out, the latest being Coastline."

More on G-Fire
* Genre: Smooth Jazz/Jazz Fusion
* Website: www.boosweet.com/GFire.asp
* Buy "G-Fire"
* More on Vernon Neilly
* More on Morris O'Connor
* More on Kevin Chokan
* More on Miguel Mega
Label: Boosweet Records
* Contact Boosweet

G-Fire is a compilation album that Neilly wanted to put together so that each artist could present himself and his music the way he felt and created it. Vernon would assist on the technical side, tweaking the mix here and there if it needed it. But mainly he wanted the artists themselves to own the songs so that everyone was free to create from their hearts. He admits that G-Fire is a great project that's selling and getting airplay all over the world.

And yes, the internet is helping. "G-Fire is thriving and will continue to thrive as we get more and more requests daily from the media to review the CD, and DJ's e-mailing and calling requesting the CD for airplay consideration. We are also promoting this CD very heavily online and through traditional sources, such as print media ads in national smooth jazz/jazz related mags. Right now we have a host of college, NPR, and small market commercial stations taking on the cd."

MP3: Fanci Panz | Wooded

Apart from the fact that this release is unlike most music these days (since it's packed with great musical compositions and performances from the first song to the last), it's also enhanced: with a little slide show accompanied by music from G-Fire. It also launches the artist pages of the various musicians on the project.

For the music lover and musician G-Fire will provide great entertainment because of the diversity of styles that are contained on the CD. Neilly: "When you consider that I am from Nassau, Bahamas; Morris is from Chicago, Illinois; Kevin is from Sacramento, California; and Miguel is from Santos, Brazil, there is a lot of musical background and diversity there, and it showed up on G-Fire. We also have great cameo performances by Juan Nelson, bass player and member of Virgin Records' Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals, and Roger Smith, who currently has his own solo smooth jazz CD out and is the current keyboard player for the legendary Tower of Power. So we are without a doubt bringing the heat on G-Fire."

In fact, only one month after its July 16th release, the "Flight to Ecxtacy" track by Vernon Neilly is to be included on the upcoming compilation, "In Celebration of Life." The CD features jazz legends Tony Bennett, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Sahrah Vaughn, and Kevin Eubanks, band leader of "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, among others.

Streaming MP3: B-Town | Moonlight In Paradise

G-Fire's music differs a bit from Neilly's solo stuff. "Musically speaking, it is much more diverse than my solo CD 'Kaleidoscope', and that is because of the creative range of the other musicians involved. G-Fire overall is definitely more exciting because of the performances from these very talented individuals. Although my solo project did reasonably well, it is much different from the performance aspect; everybody played their butts off!"

So just how does he find time to write and perform great guitar work for himself AND a band AND run an indie label? "To tell you the truth, it's a very hectic life. Basically, I take care of all the administrative duties during the day like any other business and do the creative things at night, such as writing, practicing and rehearsing with the band. And lately, all of my shows have been pretty much during the weekends - so I have made it fit. It's a very challenging feat, though, because there are a lot of things that I must oversee being CEO/Pres of Boosweet Records. My average day starts around 8:00 a.m. and does not end until 3:00 a.m. the next morning, and I don't have any days off. I work 7 days a week. Between the business and artist side, every moment of the day is filled!"


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