Craig Chaquico,
Midnight Noon
(Higher Octave, 2004)

With a sweet jazz guitar tone that falls somewhere between acoustic and electric, you'd never know from the sound of his solo work that during the 1970s and '80s, Craig Chaquico played to arena and stadium audiences as the lead guitarist of Jefferson Starship. In the early '90s Chaquico moved into acoustic music, ultimately developing the smooth jazz style heard on Midnight Noon. The sound is reminiscent of Acoustic Alchemy, though this music is far from strictly acoustic.

Nicely co-written and co-produced by keyboardist Ozzie Ahlers, Midnight Noon begins with "Her Boyfriend's Wedding," a supermelodic uptempo guitar-based jazz/pop instrumental. "Dream Date" employs a slightly funkier beat, a sax solo and more of an electric sound for the guitar solo. Some nice horn breaks punctuate "El Gato."

Great sounding vocals by April Hendrix together with some very melodic guitar and sax interplay make "Always With You" a standout track. "Dia Del Zorro" mixes electric guitar and horns to create a sound so evocative that it could or should be used in a movie soundtrack. On "Girls Night Out" Chaquico and Ahlers trade leads with Ahlers on a synthesizer that sounds a lot like a guitar. "Equinox" offers a pleasing piano and synth interlude that leads into "Outlaw in the City," on which guitar and synth combine in a peak of intensity, defining what is essentially the signature track that also closes the album.

In the liner notes, Chaquico explains that "the title of this album is inspired by the expression 'jazznoon,' a.k.a. midnight. Even outside the music world -- and with so many technological advances -- a lot of people don't really get working until midnight and a 9 to 5 working day doesn't seem to matter as much. But it is also about apparent paradoxes in our lives ... putting two words or ideas together that may not seem to make sense but, in the end, make you see ordinary day-to-day things in a new light." This aptly titled album does all that and more and with Chaquico's finely tuned sense of melody, Midnight Noon can't help but put a smile on your face.

by William Kates
22 July 2006

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