L.A. JAZZ SCENE
- By Myna Daniels
GLENDALE NEWS PRESS - BYAK'S DISC IS GAINING GROUND
- By Paul Anderson
THE TOLUCAN TIMES - ERIC BYAK'S "JOURNEY OF THE HEART"
-By Bruce Elliot
Laguna Beach, CA (October 1, 2012) - Eric Byak is riding the waves of an enthusiastic August reception at Laguna Beach’s world renowned Pageant of the Masters’ Festival of Arts 2012. Inspired by the festival energy. Eric and friends have spent the last several months completing their new single release “Laguna Breeze”.
Much beloved by devoted fans, Byak is known for his unique take on Brazilian Jazz Fusion. Byak and his recently formed, Quantum Energy band, has just completed his newest renditions of this smooth genre on The Thorns of Barcelona.
Byak’s blend of Brazilian Jazz, Funk Fusion, Salsa, and Nouveau Flamenco has been enthusiastically reviewed all around LA, with superlatives like awe-inspiring, passion and emotion, regarding his long run at Shoreline Village in Long Beach. LA Jazz Scene’s Myna Daniels called his work “often gorgeous…with grace” and “a bit of grittiness”; finding Byak’s solos “personal” and “intimate.”
Paul Andersen’s thumbs up from the Glendale News Press calls Byak’s work a “superlative set of smooth jazz instrumentals” while The Tolucan Times’ Bruce Elliot affirms that Byak’s “inspiringly beautiful” work “fuses modern jazz arrangements with Brazilian, almost world beat grooves.”
Long Beach’s Shoreline Village audiences couldn’t get enough of “African Skies” an homage to Byak’s favorite Disney film, The Lion King, which is included on The Thorns of Barcelona album.
“You could tell from the beginning that the audience really understood it,” reflected Byak. “The applause started by the song’s midpoint, and the energy between the musicians and the audience built to the finale. What a gratifying response to music that came from my soul!”
The group has the ability to establish a nearly immediate connection with the audience, as happened time and again at this summer’s Laguna Beach performances by Byak and Quantum Energy.
At the city’s world famous Pageant of the Masters and Festival of ArtM, that magical connection happened in both performances there, according to bassist Bart Broadnax, the group’s newest member.
“There’s already such a connection and camaraderie at the Festival, where the people congregate now solely for the music prior to the Pageant, with headliners like Christopher Cross,” said Broadmax, “but sometimes the mood of an audience can heighten our own performance. That first night, we could all tell the audience was expecting something big.”
“By our second show,” he continued, “We knew people were really listening, as we had people requesting repeats from our first appearance, including our own version of the classic Beatles Norwegian Wood and Eric’s Laguna Breeze, written especially for Pageant. We even got requests to repeat songs from our first set. It was really a magical moment, showing how well we all clicked.”
The synergy of Quantum Energyis built on each musician’s background broad and deep experience as studio musicians, but its true underpinning is their confluence of “belief in a higher power,” reflected Byak. “We’re able to dial in on a frequency unspoken communication” he summed up. “Where one will go, the others are able to follow without words. We intrinsically sense each other’s direction in the music.”
“All it takes is a look and a smile, and we click and lock in,” said Broadnax. “Brad Vinikow’s keyboards show his brilliance with great textures and abilities as a classically trained pianist, and rhythms of Raymond Genovese lead us on the right path.”
Most have toured extensively, and the list of countries where they’ve performed is long, from Slovenia to New Orleans, to and the list of “A” list groups they have played with resemble a Who’s Who in the music business.
In addition, Byak’s experience in production is critical to deliver the right blend of instruments, knowing intrinsically what will work in performance and in recording, and knowing when to let go and allow his fellow musicians to “inspire and support his vision” per Elliot.
After acclaimed commercial work with MCA/Universal, Amblin Entertainment, Buena Vista TV and other major players, Byak’s personal recordings reveal his innate drive to share the music he “wanted to make, and not music he was paid to make,” according to Elliot.
A natural born teacher, Byak still sets aside part of his schedule to share his talent in arranging and production with Orange County students.
Quantum Energy is here to play the music they want to play, not the music they are paid to play, to paraphrase Elliot. “We all have a great sense of humor,” said Broadnax. “What I love is that the pressure of other groups just doesn’t exist here. We get each other.”
Byak and Quantum Energy have already been approached to return next year to Laguna Beach’s signature Festival. Plan ahead for a great three-peat next summer… or better yet look for the ITunes release of Laguna Breeze and the album release of The Thorns of Barcelona to keep that Brazilian thing going all year!
If you’d like to book Quantum Energy or study under Byak’s multi-faceted musical and production talents, visit www.EricByakMusic.com.
Have you ever found yourself in a location where all the elements seem to fall into place like the pieces of a puzzle? Shoreline Village is like that. The combination of the downtown marina, the Cape Cod style fishing village, the sun glistening on the ocean, gentle breezes, and the aroma of salt air is a heady mix. Add to this peaceful scene the sensuous sounds of Brazilian jazz emanating from the Boardwalk Theatre Stage and you have a setting that is unsurpassed.
The Shoreline Village Summer Concert Series boasts a world-class line up of musical performers from the first weekend in May through September. One of the bands, The Eric Byak Project, is now proudly performing their second season, continually delighting their audience with the sounds of smooth Brazilian Jazz, Funk, Salsa, and Nouveau Flamenco. The bands leader, Eric Byak, performs not only with the entire ensemble, but also as a solo performer and half of a duo during the seasons run. Eric himself exudes incredible charisma and charm. Physically he bears a striking resemblance to Yanni, which is often remarked upon. However it is his energy, enthusiasm and skill of the art that is awe-inspiring.
Eric’s instrument of choice is the guitar and he plays it with such incredible passion and emotion you realize that it is a talent that can only be described as a God-given gift. His original compositions are electrifying. His style is incredibly versatile. They have the power to conjure up every conceivable emotion from laughter to tears
“Journey of the Heart’, his first album, is exactly what the title suggests. It is never static or boring. Each song has the strength to stand on its own and the ability to transport you, the listener, to another time and place. When each track comes to a close, the realization of the present location creates a soft landing. Eric has recently added his own voice, which had been silent for 15 years and stronger than ever before, will make its debut on the 2nd album. One of the most recent additions to his repertoire is a song simply titled, “African Skies”, a tribute to his favorite Disney film, “The Lion King”. From the very first note this brilliant composition is mesmerizing. It’s not difficult to envision the continent of Africa, exotic animals running in herds across that country’s vast open plains. You can tell from the audience reaction they understand this….the applause begins even before the song reaches its mid-point and the energy of the piece continues to build to the finale . The composition is nothing short of spectacular! Eric promises that it, too, will be on the up-coming album titled, “Thorns of the Rose” due for a winter release 2003.
Tune in to KTWV 94.7 to hear Eric’s music. His production company, Sound Design and Advertising, has produced five 60 second commercial for Shoreline Village and is currently receiving air time on The Wave. Alternately, switch on the television because the village recently commissioned his company to produce two commercials for cable TV on Charter and Adelphia. Brazilian Jazz on the stage, radio and television…. Shoreline Village really does go Brazilian.
Guitarist/composer is right in touch with the contemporary jazz scene these days. His music is modern accessible often gorgeous and he shows a lot of skill as a composer. "With Wings As Eagles" pulsates with high-energy rhythm. Byak's feisty guitar is accompanied by Robin Fate (keys), M.B.Gordy (drums), Ed Lucie (bass). The tune has definite new-flamenco feel. "Where Are You Now" is romantic, with Kathi Angel adding soft vocals and sultry sax work from Jim Pollack. The tune has a dreamy quality but it's well-grounded by strong individual work by each member. Kevin Axt handles the bass. "Wind in Butterfly" is a beauty. As one of my colleagues would say, this one is " radio ready. " It moves along with grace, boasting a beautiful and memorable melody. Renee Grizell's flute adds a lovely lilt.
George Shelby's soprano sax adds a bit of grittiness to "Midnight Obsession." Gordy and Tim Tate on bass ground it well, allowing Byak's guitar freedom to explore. A pleasant "Hold Me" begins with music box melody. This one didn't hold my attention too much. "After all the wonderful energy produced in the previous tracks. "Christy's Eyes" becomes a very personal, intimate solo outing for Byak's sensitive guitar. "Beyond The Land Of Oz" is "big" number, with narration by Byak, vocals by Kathi Angel and Shelly Fuller, Hans Zemuehlen on keys, Frank Briggs on drums and Kevin Axt on bass. No matter how much is going on, Byak's guitar is in the forefront. A well crafted tune that could have easily been overdone. Eric Byak has some fine instincts as a composer and performer. This CD is a good start.
GLENDALE NEWS PRESS - BYAK'S DISC IS GAINING GROUND
- by Paul Anderson
Guitarist Eric Byak likens being an independent recording artist is an increasingly corporate marketplace to a giant machine that requires quarters every 10 minutes-it's a constant feeding of the kitty. "And it's one hungry cat," says the Burbank resident. "It's an airplay dilemma that becomes a Catch-22 situation due to your distribution." It's a predicament that faces many independent artists. They release a compact disc that picks up good reviews and actually makes some radio playl ists, but then fans have a hard time finding the music they hear because the disc isn't available in stores due to a lack of distribution (a problem the corporate big guys don't have). In the world today, consumer products of all kinds, from cereals to compact disc, live or die by their ability to find shelf space, getting better lately. The guitarist, a member of Burbank High's Class of 1973, released his first album, "Journey of the Heart," in September 1996.
A superlative set of smooth jazz instrumentals, it has slowly but steadily gained airplay and highly favorable reviews. This in turn has helped him get the disc placed in the Virgin Megastore in Burbank, which has led to other stores, and it should shortly make its debut at Borders Book and Music in the South Bay. "I've been getting airplay on KBSR in San Juan Capistrano which is why it's going into that store," he said. "I may do some Borders shows, which would definitely help get wider display." Of course, it costs an artist to play such shows there's that kitty again. Playing professionally since 11, Eric majored in studio guitar at USC,studying under such teachers as Lee Ritenour and the late Tommy Tedesco.After establishing himself as a successful guitarist/producer/engineer, he founded the Sound Design Music Group, a company that provides all sorts of music production services, from industrial applications to commercial scores, with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry as clients. This, in turn, has allowed him to make "Journey of the Heart" on his own ERB label. "You use the profit from one to help pay the overhead on the other. "In other words, cat food."
THE TOLUCAN TIMES - ERIC BYAK'S "JOURNEY OF THE HEART"
-By Bruce Elliot
It is a wonderful experience to see a truly well-constructed, well-planned building. Watching a skilled mechanic listen to the humm of an engine and deftly repair it for good…and for a few dollars, is a reaffirming, almost inspirational moment. What I noticed first on listening to Eric Byak's album, Journey of the Heart, was the beautiful sound of the music. The clear production let me hear the instruments weave together with a well-choreographed flow. This is a finely constructed, expertly put together example of current instrumental jazz with an emphasis on the word "current." It should be well constructed. Eric Byak is a pro with the hyphens after his name to prove it. He is a guitarist - producer - engineer - composer - synthesist and founder of the Sound Design Music Group. Eric has created music for MCA/Universal, Amblin Entertainment, Buena Vista TV among other major players in the entertainment world. Journey of the Heart is music Mr. Byak wanted to make, and not music he was paid to make. I am drawn more to the over-all sound of this disc than the individual songs. It is lush or sparse depending on the feel needed to bring the listener along the intended path. There is always a feeling of optimism, an upbeat tone. Eric fusses modern jazz arrangements with Brazilian, almost world beat grooves, Eric Byak is the absolute auteur of this work but he seems to be a benevolent one, letting the musicians inspire and support his vision. Frank Briggs on drums and Baba Elefante on bass provide a pulsating rhythm supplemented by M.B. Gordy and Gabriel Falcon on percussion.
Hans Zhermuhlen on keyboards is used to fill holes and provide the structure while sax player George Shelby shines as soloist deserving his own shot in the driver's seat. Maybe be collection of musicians can continue to support each other's projects. They make a fine team. The undisputed leader of this album is Eric Byak. Of all the hyphens after his name the word "guitarist" is the one that stands out. The compositions are fine vehicles to bring the listener along this wistful flight; the arrangements allow expression and offer hooks for the listeners to latch onto; the guitar playing is simply wonderful. Clean or slightly boosted, it seems this album could have been accomplished on guitar alone. The tone of his instrument never becomes thin or over processed. The guitar playing is not innovative or adventurous but that's not the purpose of this collection. The guitar playing is superior in its execution and confidence. It is beautiful. Journey of the Heart is a beautiful album. Not boringly beautiful, but inspiringly beautiful. It moves along at a brisk but not rushed pace. This is one of those CDs you listen to when you want a "sure thing!" Like when your car needs that one pro mechanic to fix the problems once and for all. When your soul needs that comforting piece of music to begin, continue, or end the day, give your soul a Journey of the Heart
In the studio with my music friends
Nathan East and Ricky Lawson-- tracking on
a few songs on my second CD.
What a blessing and honor to work with