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Craig Chaquico: Shadow and Light

Following a 16-year stint as the lead guitarist for the rock band Jefferson Starship, Craig Chaquico launched a solo career in 1993 with a distinctive sound that was dramatically different from the rock styles with which he’d been associated. This sound, lush and melodic, was driven by acoustic guitar and often drew inspiration from the environment and from Native American culture. Now one of smooth jazz’s top artists, Chaquico decided to add a new dimension to his music: on Shadow and Light he uses electric guitar on several tracks to complement and enhance his trademark acoustic sound.

One of Shadow and Light’s most unique tracks is “Could We Fall in Love,” wherein Chaquico multitracks himself on electric and acoustic guitars to create an intricate musical tapestry. Smooth-jazz saxophonists Warren Hill and Jeff Kashiwa enjoy some spirited interaction with Chaquico’s wah-wah guitar and keyboardist Ozzie Ahlers’ bluesy piano on an exuberant remake of “Compared to What,” a socially conscious tune made famous in 1968 by soul-jazz duo Les McCann and Eddie Harris. Chaquico provides lead vocals on the song, and while his pleasant, easy voice lacks the gritty rawness of McCann’s vocal, he and his collaborators are obviously enjoying digging into this chestnut. Chaquico alternates hauntingly lyrical acoustic and soaring electric guitar on “Innocent Kiss,” and the majestic “Keepers of the Flame” reflects his long-held Native American-influenced musical sensibility.

A lively saxophone-spiced “remix” version of Chaquico’s hit “Cafe Carnival,” which originally appeared on his 2000 best-of collection, Panorama, wraps up this sparkling, highly enjoyable album.

Originally Published