have enjoyed a level of success and career longevity rarely paralleled in contemporary music - but then Shakatak is a particularly unusual group. Because of the nature of their music, their fan base is one that is far reaching while always retaining an underground element. This paradox sees the band, who are known primarily as serious jazz/funk musicians, enjoying both high cult status and instant recognition as a household name.
After a number of successful top-twenty singles in the UK, the band went on to score unprecedented international success with the release of the classic Nightbirds recording, and the title track has now become a standard in the popular music repertoire. This success was repeated with the top ten hit Down On The Streetand the award-winning video established the bands personnel of Jill Saward (lead vocs), Bill Sharpe (Keys), Keith Winter (gtr), George Anderson (bs gtr) and Roger Odell (drs). With the magic Al Jarreau/Shakatak combination, the group went on to record the track Day By Day to further international acclaim.
Along with this successful recording career, Shakatak had firmly established themselves as a vibrant live act, combining astute musicianship with a sense of fun that communicated strongly with world-wide audiences. Their performance in Japans Budoken Hall won them a Silver Award at the Tokyo International Song Festival - other awards include the Best Instrumental Album for three consecutive years - and other live concerts of note have been the East meets West Border Concert at the time of German re-unification in 1989, and the open air concert in Cape Town for the Millennium Celebrations 2000.
The long run of continuous success was brought to a halt when guitarist Keith Winter became seriously ill and was forced to stop playing. It took Keith a long while to redirect his energies but he is now a very successful website designer and remains very much part of the Shakatak team by designing and maintaining the www.shakatak.com web site.
Eventually the band re-organised and the remaining four original members now augment their live shows with Jacqui Hicks (b. vocs, sax & flt) or Debby Bracknell (b.vocs & flt) and Alan Wormald (gtr & b.vocs).
Shakatak perform regularly in the UK, Europe and the Far East and release CDs almost annually. There are also DVD releases available, proving there is still an insatiable demand for the unique Shakatak sound.
is a UK pop group formed by the late Kito Poncioni (bass), Mark Reilly (vocals) and Danny White (keyboards) in 1982 out of the shards of the abandoned Blue Rondo A La Turk.
For their first album "Whose Side Are You On?" they hired unknown polish vocalist Basia Trzetrzelewska who turned out to be a godsend: her vocal arrangements gave the album a jazzy dimension that Reilly and White couldn't anticipate, and hits like "Get Out of Your Lazy Bed" and "Half a Minute" turned Matt Bianco into one of the biggest acts of 1984's Europe. The band name suggests that Matt Bianco is a personal name, but Matt is "a made up spy, a secret agent; we loved spy TV themes and film scores."
Basia and Danny White left the group after the first album to pursue a lucrative solo-career with Sony under the name Basia. Mark Reilly, now without a musical partner, found ex-Wham keyboarder and session musician Mark Fisher and recorded the next (self titled) Matt Bianco album, followed by an enormous European tour that saw them perform in front of more than 250,000 happy punters. Now Matt Bianco was a household name in Europe and Warner Brothers thought it was time to get them into the U.S. market.
They hired Gloria Estefan's husband and producer Emilio Estefan and recorded Indigo, with the Estefan productions being chosen as singles. 1988's "Don't Blame It On That Girl" , "Good Times" and "Wap-Bam-Boogie," which did well on the Dance Charts.
After another album with Warner Brothers - the fractured "Samba In Your Casa" (1991), Reilly and Fisher split from their record company and went freelance: From now on they would record their albums in their own studios and then offer them to independent distributors worldwide.
This way, they had total artistic freedom but still scored contracts with ZYX Music and Intercord in Europe, and JVC-Victor in Asia. The next albums did not sell that well in Europe, but they created a loyal fan base in Japan and the rest of Asia and the albums "Another Time Another Place," "Gran Via," "World-Go-Round," "A/Collection," "Rico" and "Echoes" sold well enough for a comfortable lifestyle in the south east of England.
After twenty years recording and touring Mark Fisher started to crave for a different lifestyle and the two split amicably.
Basia and Danny White joined with Mark Reilly to reform the "original" Matt Bianco in 2003, after 20 years apart. In 2004, Matt Bianco released the album "Matt's Mood," which features well-crafted adult-contemporary/jazz numbers like "Ordinary Day", jazzy songs like "Wrong Side of the Street" and "Golden Days", and the Latin jazz the group is known for in the piece "La Luna".
The following year, they embarked on a world tour, which included stops in the UK, Japan, and the United States.
It is now 2007 , Mark Reilly and Mark Fisher join forces yet again to write a new album for JVC in Japan .
They will be performing from September a series of Jazz festivals in various countries , leading up to the release of there new album in the beginning of 2008, followed by a World tour to promote it . This will be their first studio album together in 5 years.
Kitaro's style is the epitome of the contemplative, highly melodic synthesizer music often associated with the new-age movement.
Interestingly enough, this famous Japanese composer taught himself to play electric guitar in high school inspired by the R&B music of Otis Redding.
In the early '70s, Kitaro formed the Far East Family Band, which released two albums of progressive rock.
In 1972, however, he met the innovative German synthesist Klaus Schulze during a trip to Europe.
Kitaro was hooked. He built his first synthesizer and began experimenting with all kinds of unusual sounds.
His first solo album, Astral Voyage, appeared in 1978 and quickly gained a cult following.
Two years later, he produced the first of several soundtracks for Silk Road, a Japanese television documentary series that ran for five years.
Several albums of music from Silk Road were released to a growing international contingent of fans who admired his combination of lush, majestic textures and gentle, almost naive, melodies. Kitaro, however, was still considered an underground artist in America until he signed with Geffen Records in 1986, which re-released seven of his earlier albums and gave him the support to expand his scope in many ways.
For instance, after years of creating albums in the privacy of his home studio near Japan's Mt. Fuji, Kitaro produced his 1987 release, The Light of the Spirit, with the help of Mickey Hart.
The album featured an array of American musicians and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New-Age Performance category.
That same year, Kitaro also made his first live tour of North America and sold two million albums in the U.S. alone. Kitaro's style had changed as well, becoming more theatrical and assertive while retaining a certain level of innocence and purity.
His more recent recordings also show a renewed interest in the rock and pop elements that originally attracted him to music in the late '60s; in 1998, he also released the soundtrack to Cirque Ingenieux, a production bound for the Broadway stage.
Thinking of You followed a year later; Ancient appeared in spring 2001. It was well received, leading to a sequel of sorts in the like-minded Ancient Journey in 2002.
His contributions on the soundtrack to the controversial Chinese drama The Soong Sisters came out the same year, as did a live album and DVD.