8 p.m. Oct. 7. Daniel Street, 21 Daniel St., Milford. $25-$32, (203) 877-4446, danielstreetclub.com.
Special EFX has spearheaded the smooth jazz movement for nearly three decades, with a remarkably consistent sound and vision despite personnel shifts. Guitarist Chieli (pronounced key-eh-lee) Minucci co-founded Special EFX in 1982 with percussionist George Jinda but Minucci departed in 1994 for a solo direction. In 1996, Jinda suffered a debilitating asthma/diabetic attack that functionally disabled him and Minnucci returned to helm Special EFX; Jinda passed away in 2002. Minucci sees those various band permutations as essentially coming from a common root.
"Conceptually, it's not that different," he says from his New York home. "It's still a fusion of styles, world rhythms and melodic jazz writing. The difference is there are some new categories we've explored. Most people knew Special EFX to be a melodic pop jazz thing. The smooth jazz name came when we started doing R&B grooves. Later I got into more lineear composition, melodies that were more boppish. That's something we do in our shows a lot."
Similarly, Minucci doesn't necessarily differentiate between his work with Special EFX and his solo output, seeing it as the totality of his creative expression.
"Travels was a (solo) concept record; I wanted to make a record that was completely different. And East of the Sun was more like a meditative new age, Eastern sounding record," says Minucci. "But the other solo records could have been Special EFX records. So if it's called Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, it implies the regular band guys from the East Coast. This is going to be the regular guys with Karen Briggs on violin. It's going to be great."
The Daniel Street gig will be special beyond the reunion with Briggs, who played on 2010's self-released Without You album. The show is also a fundraiser for guitarist Jeff Golub (Rod Stewart, Bill Squier) to help offset his medical expenses. Golub lost his vision earlier this year and is currently undergoing tests to determine if his condition is reversible (check jeffgolub.com for donation details).
"I think most performers and writers are influenced by what's going on in their lives; you are what you eat," says Minucci. "When I look back at the very first record in 1983, there's still quite a bit in common but there's also completely new territory."
Last year's Without You represented a fascinating blend of smooth, pop and traditional jazz, world music and fusion, and a look back at the history of Special EFX. Five tracks were previous recordings, some dating back to the band's debut, that were revisited to reflect the quartet's current mindset.
"What's different is that we're better players and we play with a little more intensity now," says Minucci. "We were a little careful back then, but these guys are amazing players and they play the heck out of this stuff."
Although Minucci is Special EFX's only remaining original member, the band's line-up has been stable for 20 years. What will change soon is the band's set list, making this upcoming run of gigs the last time to see their current show.
"When people see us perform, they're going to hear an eclectic, varied show," says Minucci. "If it's a sexy tune, they're not going to hear another one. If it's a fast tune, they're going to hear a slow one next. That's what we like to do. It's very dynamic, you don't know what's coming next."