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Special EFX: Butterfly

Although the cast of characters has changed somewhat over the years, Special EFX, featuring Chieli Minucci, offers the same reliably easygoing smooth-jazz compositions on Butterfly (Shanachie 5083; 57:07). While there are a few cloying slow-paced tracks here, the majority of tunes are of the sunny and sweet, uptempo variety: brisk and appealing, like “Cruise Control,” or sparkling through a synthesizer, like “Everyone’s a Star.” The best tunes here deviate some from the formula: the rattling, lean-and-mean funk “For Cryin’ Out Loud,” featuring Roger Smith on organ, and the wistful pop-song melody “If Only” manage to be truly engaging rather than a listenable backdrop. A virtuoso in his own right, Minucci has delivered better. In fact, he could have used some of Carlos Villalobos’ inspiration on his own Spanish hybrid, “Two Hearts,” which surrounds his classically wrought, romantic guitar-work with cold, brittle drum programming.

Originally Published