Co-founded in 1982 by master guitarist Chieli Minucci (pronounced Key-eli Mee-noo-chee) and the late percussionist George Jinda, Special EFX helped pave the road for contemporary jazz in the 80s and continues to set the standard. With over 30 years as torchbearers of innovative music, the latest release from this pioneering group, Deep As The Night, is the latest chapter in the enduring story of Special EFX. Chieli reflects on the band’s longevity: “One of the reasons we have been able to maintain our popularity is because we have evolved over the years. When the band first started we had a heavy world music influence. Later we highlighted more of an acid-jazz sound, as well as some progressive fusion-rock thrown in for good measure. When people hear our music, they can expect to hear a little of everything!” Eric Marienthal is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music where he studied with the legendary saxophone professor, Joe Viola. He has since gone on to perform in over 75 different countries, recorded 14 solo CDs and has played on hundreds of records, films, television shows and commercial jingles. Violinist Regina Carter, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Genius grant, combines dazzling technical proficiency and profound compositional and improvisational gifts with a fresh, aggressive approach to her instrument and a multicultural perspective, challenging preconceptions regarding the instrument.
Mike LeDonne is a world renowned jazz pianist and Hammond organist. Oscar Peterson named him as one of his favorite pianists of this era. Since moving to New York City in 1978 he has worked with a wide spectrum of Jazz greats from Benny Goodman to Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson and many others. He spent 11 years as pianist and musical director for vibes legend Milt Jackson, and has been working with Benny Golson since 1997.
He formed his organ band “The Groover Quartet” in 2000 for a residency, that has lasted 18 years and counting, at Smoke Jazz Club in New York City. Since then the band has recorded 9 CD’s, several of which went to #1 on the jazz radio charts, and has been performing in festivals and clubs all over the world. Mike was nominated for “Best Keyboards” 2012 by the Jazz Journalists Association and won the Downbeat Critic’s Poll as “Rising Star” on organ that same year. Mike is featured on over 150 recordings and has 20 out under his own name.