Chieli Minucci is being modest when he says things aren’t much different from his early days in the music business. The Grammy-nominated guitarist/composer remembers playing three shows a night on a cruise ship during Christmas and Easter when he was 14 years old.
“For us, it was like going on tour,” he says.
He has the same feeling today.
“It’s all about getting out there and traveling, playing with friends,” says Minucci, who’s in town Friday Jan. 30, with his band Special EFX.
For its live shows, the band does a sampling of the sounds and songs that made it a standard-bearer for contemporary jazz in the ’80s.
“I want to give the guys in the band the chance to play their asses off,” Minucci says. He’s also aware that he needs to give the audience songs they recognize.
“If I can get both, I’m 90% there,” he says.
Over his career, Minucci has experimented with everything from smooth jazz and rock fusion to world music and even acid-jazz sounds. Between his work with the band and his solo projects, Minucci has released 27 albums and served as an on-call guitarist for pop acts like Celine Dion, The Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez and Jewel. He’s also written music for television shows like “The Guiding Light.” He’s won three Emmy awards for the work.
“We were trying to develop something that was our own,” Minucci says, though it was his partner, the late percussionist George Jinda, who had a clear idea of what Special EFX could be.
“I wasn’t all that organized or ambitious,” he says.
The evolution of the band was both organic and orchestrated.
There was a time, for example, when the band had a strict no-saxophone policy. The instrument was at a saturation point in jazz. When Special EFX finally did get a sax player, “we went into a whole other direction we didn’t anticipate,” Minucci says.
The band continues to write and release new music. Its latest, “Genesis,” was released in 2013. The album’s third single, “Crazy Eights,” is out now.