Monday, April 27, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 27, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
2 - 3 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
3 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
4 - 7 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
5 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
6 - 5 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
7 - 9 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
8 - 14 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
9 - 13 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
10 - 12 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
11 - 8 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
12 - 11 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
13 - 10 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
14 - 6 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
15 - 16 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' (Shanachie)
16 - 15 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
17 - 19 - James Lloyd - "Here We Go" - (Shanachie)
18 - 18 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
19 - 22 - Julian Vaughn - "Limitless" - (
20 - 17 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Bluey - "Life Between The Notes" - Release on Shanachie #jazz


Shanachie Entertainment is thrilled to be releasing Life Between The Notes from pioneering and ground-breaking UK groove-master Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick on April 28, 2015. The creative force behind Incognito, the preeminent funk/jazz/soul/dance outfit in the world, Bluey pioneered the ‘acid jazz’ movement and laid down the blueprint for the neo-soul scene to follow. At a time when drum machines and sampling dominated the airwaves, Bluey and Incognito reminded us of the sheer beauty of the human soul and instrumental virtuosity. They scored hits with versions of Stevie Wonder’s “Don't You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” and Ronnie Laws’ “Always There,” selling more than a million records in the process! As a producer, songwriter and musician, Bluey has collaborated with a who’s who list in music including James Brown, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Chaka Khan, R. Kelly, Leon Ware, George Duke, Phillip Bailey, Steve Gadd, Maxi Priest and countless others.

Now in his third decade of effortlessly churning out mind-blowing and chart-topping hits, vocalist and guitarist Bluey releases his highly anticipated second solo album Life Between The Notes.

Bluey Shares His Inspiration Behind the Music on Life Between The Notes
This second solo album has a Jazz undertow that has taken me in some new directions and may surprise some folks out there. The title and inspiration for much of the writing on this record comes from the fact that all the events in my life outside music has had to compete with huge chunks of my time lost in my world of music. Good or bad, for better for worse, it’s the truth! Being my partner, my friend or my offspring would not have always been easy due to my one-track musical mind. Nowadays there is more balance in my life than ever before, and as the musical journey continues, I find myself using my creative spirit and my fame for the greater good of humanity. With more than 38 years in the music business, travelling the globe living my dream comes a positive retrospective.

So on to the album…From the off “Dance To My Drums” is a celebration of my individuality and a call to the world to find and bring that, which is their own. Where is your rhythm? Play me your beats… Show me your dance!

 On “Life Between The Notes,” co-written by my main musical collaborator Richard Bull, I quote my record collection. The songs that have fanned the flame of this long musical journey that seems to be gathering pace when everything around me seems to be slowing down.

  I love me a slice of electronic dance and when that time came I could not think of anyone who does it better than Ski Oakenfull. Our song “Hold On” is about the times when I lost my way and the voices of reason that I was fortunate to have around me at various stages of my life. I am looking forward to seeing the dancers groove to this.

A while back I toured with Leon Ware and keyboardist Dan Goldman A.K.A. JD73. I was so taken by his approach, that it was only a question of time before we did something together. “Saints and Sinners” is a perfect blend of our creativity with his chord structures and incredible sounds allowing me tons of space to explore. The song is an attempt to make sense of the lack of empathy that exists worldwide in these trying times! I tapped into that bountiful world of music that I’ve grown with using quotes and musings that sheds light on the way that things should and could be. JD’s piano solo wraps it all up in a way that words cannot say!

“Trippin’ On This Feelin’” is the first track to hint at the percussive jazz direction that will follow as the album proceeds. Trippy electronics run adjacent to the mixture of electric and acoustic pianos from my Incognito partner Matt Cooper creating a sense of other worldly excursion to compliment the intimate encounter portrayed in the lyrics. The subject of love making can be crass when put into song, I hope that we’ve achieved it in a romantic sensual way.

On “I’ve Got A Weakness For Your Love,” I am once again acknowledging how falling in love with someone can
smooth out the edges in a man. Surrender is not always submissive, and at times can lead to a better understanding! I
was supposed to sing this song all in falsetto, but a serious cough put pay to that. But I liked the result so much that I
never went back to the original vibe.

“Tomorrow Never Lies” is a song of hope. My life journeys and the hatred and destruction on our planet urges me to
plant seeds in the minds of our youth, those with their lives still ahead of them and their dreams and aspirations still to
be fulfilled. For them more than ever, tomorrow is everything and we who have a voice and have a choice, must ensure
that we are doing everything possible to ensure that they have a future!

The Jazz adventure continues with more of the Latin overtones that I experienced whilst staying in New York in the mid
90s. Like many of my songs, the lyrics are from a diary that I kept during that period. For “Columbus Avenue,” I just
had to cast my mind back to the sounds, smells and flavours that accompanied my adventures. It’s a depiction of a day
that concludes with one of my summertime shows with Incognito in the big apple. I had met Matt for the first time in
this period as we both signed for Verve Records, so his total understanding and feeling for the music and vibes of the
city helped me to create the perfect soundtrack for the story to be told.

“Caught Up In The Grey” is about that low feeling that can often escalate into depression. When I am on the road, many people share their stories with me and I can sometimes bring hope and clarity to those going through some tough situations by just letting them know that I understand them and that these emotions are not unique to anyone of us. When they realise that I have gone through similar situations they become optimistic and start to feel that there may be light ahead. I am grateful that my music can bring people hope and healing in this way, and I feel very privileged.

Being a guitarist, I don’t often write guitar-based songs with other guitarists. But from the time Incognito’s percussionist Joao introduced me to Francisco Salles and his music, I knew that we would write songs together. “Been There Before” is one of many songs we’ve written in recent months. This experience also gave me an opportunity to play keyboards again, which I enjoyed doing. The song is basically about learning from your mistakes and not being afraid of saying no if you think it’s for the best, even if feelings are hurt at the time.

“More Than Getting By” is, on the other hand, the opposite of the song “Been There Before.” It’s about how sticking with a relationship through thick and thin (If you believe in it) can pay dividends. Seeing your faults and admitting your part in the breakdown and making changes can lead to great and enduring love! This is the only song on the album that I wrote by myself and once again I enjoyed playing the Fender Rhodes piano, which was the first part of the building block in this recording. Drums & percussion came from my Incognito band members Francesco Mendolia and Joao Caetano, lead guitar by Francesco Salles and bass by Robin Mullarky of Zero 7, Bugz In The Attic fame.

Sometimes a song begins it’s life heading in a completely different direction. The music to “The Poetry Of Life,” was initially written by Richard Bull, Matt Cooper and myself for another established artist who will remain anonymous.  After waiting several months for the artist to write lyrics and melody and hearing nothing back, I began toying with the track and came up with a song that refers to my life at various stages.

It brought another angle to the proceedings, so I decided to record it for the album. Sometimes it’s good to wait, but you’ve got to know when to move on! My teachers would always refer to me as a dreamer and constantly dismissed my ideas. One even referred to me as living in an enchanted world saying “ You Live In A Fairy Tale, not the real world.” Life has proven my enchanted world to be my reality! I live the dream!

The closing song on the album is “Sunships On The Shores Of Mars,” the deepest adventure I’ve allowed myself to take in the world of Jazz. I believe strongly that the past and the future are intertwined, and that the more we know about our universe and our origins the more we know about ourselves and the better we become at creating the future. Graham Harvey at the piano, Richard Bull on drums, percussion, bass and guitar create the sound of an intimate quartet that allows me to croon like I’ve never crooned before. Now that was fun! This may be the beginning of something new, and one thing’s for sure…

“We are not replicants awaiting. It’s not our time to die”!

Peace… Bluey

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The Sax Pack - "Power Of 3" - Release on Shanachie #jazz

Featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters & Steve Cole

Throughout the history of popular American culture, a few icons have stood the test of time on first name alone…like Frank, Sammy and Dean…the Rat Pack of course!  Adored and revered for their unparalleled musical abilities, camaraderie, humor, good looks, charm and wit, these three gentlemen raised the bar for an entire new generation of entertainers.  In the world of jazz, there are three saxophonists who have set out to do just the same – that’s Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole…The Sax Pack! “We have always had a  ‘whole greater than the sum of its parts’ effect,” confides Steve Cole.  Jeff Kashiwa shares, “I want to show the audience how much fun we have backstage and bring it on stage!” Kim Waters adds, “We have different styles, but when we get together we gel in an incredible way.” The sheer musicality, charisma and enjoyment generated by the chart-topping Sax Pack is undeniable. Their success at radio and demand on cruises and at festivals is a testament to the excitement they generate when they step on the scene. April 14, 2015 Shanachie Entertainment will release The Sax Pack’s third CD for the label, Power of 3, marking the all-star unit’s 10th Anniversary.

“I think when all three of us are together sharing the stage something magical happens,” states tenorman Jeff Kashiwa. “In the studio the chemistry between the three of us results in music that no one of us could create. There is a fourth sound that is created when we play together. We understand how to blend with each other and how to support one another.” Each distinctive players in their own right, Kashiwa, Waters and Cole contribute something uniquely their own to the ensemble. Waters explains, “I bring the smooth alto sound with the old school jazz riffs. Steve brings the big bold Tenor sax sound that I call the ‘Bull Dozer’ and Jeff adds another great tenor sound that is warmer. When we all come together the result is amazing.”  Power of 3 opens with the swooning, euphoric and harmonically pleasing “Sooner or  Later,” the album’s first single that is steadily climbing the charts.  “It’s a throwback to the old soul era of The Spinners and The Temptations,” explains Kashiwa.  “The sentiment is that sooner or later you'll come back to me baby! It's a love song you can dance to.” Steve Cole adds, “Jeff brought it to the writing session, and together we finished the tune.  I think it really represents the mood and state of mind that we were all in as we regrouped after some time to make music together again.  We were having a blast!”

“Back in Style,” soulful and funky number, features the three saxophonists weaving in and out of one another creating a magnificent and robust sonic tapestry. A lush chorus featuring tenorman David Mann and trumpeter David Neumann is featured on this track and throughout most of the album. Power of 3 also showcases organist Ricky Peterson, guitarists Bernd Schoenhart and Gerey Johnson, trombonist Dan Levine, drummer Kahari Parker, bassist Lamar Jones and keyboardist Dave Kochanski. Waters plays keys on a number of the songs.

The high powered and sweat-including “Disco Here” is a take no prisoners dance anthem with an irresistible and pulsating groove from beginning to end while “Shine On” maintains the high energy with the memorable R&B number that gives room for each saxophonist to take flight. The trio welcomes a fourth saxophonist on “Shine On” as Marcus Anderson steps into the ring. He can also be heard on the album’s title track. Kashiwa comments, “Marcus not only plays a few tunes, but he helped write many of the songs on the CD. So he had a big part in the creation of this project. Marcus is an incredibly talented young musician whose playing is very precise and full of energy and soul. He keeps us young!”

A standout on Power of 3 is the moving blues drenched and gospel-tinged “Like Old Times.”  The Sax Pack takes us to the funky side of town on  “Into You” and the 70s inspired title track, which effortlessly fuses all the finer elements of funk, dance, jazz and R&B to create some of the most exhilarating moments on the recording. “When Morning Comes” boasts a retro vibe and features Waters on alto and keys and showcases the flute of the multi-talented Dave Mann. “What’s The Time” is a break-neck tempo soul anthem with a rock edge that gives room for the guys to cut loose and strut their stuff. Kashiwa, Waters and Cole bring the album to a close with the 1980s Rick Astley #1 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up,” proving that they can take the surprising and make it work.

“Collectively the artists of The Sax Pack have amassed over 20 top-ten smooth jazz radio hits and sold over a million albums,” states Senior Vice President of A&R for Shanachie Entertainment, Danny Weiss.  “These times call for something special and unique, and that's why these three sax superstars decided to get together and record this album.  Jeff Kashiwa goes all the way back with the Rippingtons before establishing his solo career, Kim Waters comes more from the R&B end of the smooth jazz spectrum and Steve Cole, the newest in terms of length of career, has a fantastic ‘old school’ sound that really rounds out the ensemble.”

In a time of overly hyped and contrived recording projects, it is refreshing to know that The Sax Pack is not just an album but also an actual working band. For the past five years, Kashiwa, Waters and Cole have logged a lot of miles together playing sold out concerts, festivals and clubs around the country.  Kashiwa shares, “Kim has a very playful, charming and smooth approach to playing. A lot of those lines come from the bebop era combined with R&B phrasing which makes for a very exciting and elegant approach to playing. Steve's sound comes from that deep Chicago Blues tradition. His sound is nothing short of magnificent. He plays each and every line with integrity, power and soul. My playing is a combination of traditional jazz and funk because those are the two kinds of music that I listen to all day long.” Steve Cole adds  “We really have a blast…and we want the audience to join the party” and Kim Waters declares, “we are like brothers.”

Power Of 3 is a follow up to 2009’s The Pack Is Back and 2008’s The Sax Pack. Kashiwa was inspired to create The Sax Pack one day while he was watching a PBS documentary on The Rat Pack. “I am a huge fan,” explains the saxophonist. “I love the way the Rat Pack took the part that usually happens backstage and brought it to the forefront for the audience.  One day I was watching this Rat Pack show with Miles Gilderdale of Acoustic Alchemy when he said jokingly ‘yeah you can do The Sax Pack.’ I said ‘Wow!’ that is a great name.’ The next day I called Kim and Steve and said ‘I know we all have separate careers but what would it be like to play together as a group?’ The idea really took off from there. Our first concert was a sold-out show and there was instant chemistry among the three of us and we knew we were on to something.”

A native of Seattle, WA, Jeff Kashiwa has it all: technique, soul, showmanship, agility and grace. One of the most diverse and in demand sax players in all of contemporary jazz, Kashiwa cut his teeth with a decade long tenure with the Rippingtons.  Inspired by legendary saxman Stan Getz, Jeff Kashiwa has also collaborated with Acoustic Alchemy, Chuck Loeb, Special EFX, and his own successful group, Coastal Access. The chart-topping saxophonist maintains a busy schedule and rigorous tour schedule.  Kashiwa’s most recent solo project is Let It Ride.

Kim Waters has enjoyed a career longevity that is rare in the music business. For close to two decades the saxophonist, composer and producer has been one of the premier architects of Urban Smooth Jazz and a beacon of light in contemporary jazz.  Kim Waters’ music has fine-tuned the perfect combination of sensitivity and brawn, intellect and emotion and technique and soulfulness. It is these winning combinations, along with his sincere dedication and love for his craft, that have enabled him to score top-ten singles on all of his albums as a leader.  The suave, debonair and commanding saxophonist’s ability to transcend the musical boundaries of jazz, pop and R&B have made him one of the most sought-after musicians in contemporary jazz.  Kim Waters most recent solo project is Silver Soul.

Steve Cole's soulful style reflects the rich R&B heritage of his hometown, Chicago. This high-caliber, creative sax man has made a mark in jazz by releasing consistently enjoyable CDs.  Cole, who studied music at Northwestern University and business at the University of Chicago, boasts an impressive resume including playing on numerous commercial spots, contributing to a number of soundtracks on the A&E network, as well as composing and performing music with keyboardist Brian Culbertson, guitarists Chuck Loeb, Nick Colionne, and Marc Antoine. Steve Cole’s most recent solo album is Pulse.

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Diana Barash, Debut CD - "A Miracle of Love " - #jazz

Born in Eastern Europe in the midst of the crumbling rule of the Soviet Union, Diana had begun her classical music training at the age of seven. Soon thereafter, she set out on the long trek across the world, escaping the suffocating hand of the government-ruled state. Along her travels, Diana absorbed many cultures into her music and was shaped by multicultural beats as well as more traditional genres, such as Jazz, R&B and Pop.

Listen to Live Your Life on Soundcloud

A versatile performer, Diana begun performing on stage at age 16 and continues to entice us with her voice. She has settled, in the Los Angeles area, where she continues to embrace her long love for composing and singing. Diana writes all of her own music, lyrics, instrumentals, and soundtracks.

Diana’s debut album,  “Miracle of Love”, was released in November, 2013. Several tracks were co-written in collaboration with renowned jazz pianist and composer, Sunnie Paxson. While Diana can be classified as pop artist, her soulful singing style is multifaceted and her lyrics are full of poignant message of love, hope, empowerment and perseverance.

She conveys her message through opening her heart to an unsuspecting bystander and speaking the unabashed truth. Her instrumentals are both tender and powerful at the same time. Soft but determined, her voice envelopes the listener in the crushed velvet that is her heart and soul, while delivering the powerful message to live one’s life, dare not to follow and, to be different and make a difference!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Steven Davis - "Perfectly Perfect" - Release on First Second Records - #jazz

“Perfectly Perfect” soundtrack for summer love
Jazz crooner Steven Davis ponders “What Happened To Romance,” his first big band album due June 23, led by the original song featured in an international television commercial. 

Bolstering the belief that romance is always en vogue, crooner Steven Davis plies his big voice backed by a big band on the swinging set “What Happened To Romance,” a charming meditation on love marrying timeless traits from another era to today’s passionate demand for originality. The 14-track disc comprised of a dozen original songs penned by Davis and The 88s’ Josh Charles and Alissa Moreno – the duo that produced the outing – will be released June 23 by the vocalist’s First Second Records and serviced to jazz radio for airplay.  
The Nashville-based Davis trekked to New York City to record “What Happened To Romance” with The After Midnight Orchestra featuring original members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands. Fully ensconced in the retro spirit, Davis belts out amorous overtures and enchanting dreams with debonair elegance amidst cascading melodies and groovy rhythms punctuated by the lush horns arranged and conducted by Andy Farber. Completing the collection are faithful interpretations of Johnny Mercer’s swooning “Day In, Day Out” and Irving Berlin’s rousing “All By Myself.”
The album’s playful escapade “Perfectly Perfect” is the sublime soundtrack to a television commercial for Centralway Numbrs, a mobile banking application in Germany and is viewable online globally ( 

“We are using the template of the Great American Songbook writers to create new music that hopefully will stand the test of time. I love this music because it allows us to tell these stories and I like the nuances of this style. There is a certain sense of altruism that appeals to me,” said Davis, who will introduce his throwback sound to new audiences by playing unexpected places for a big band jazz singer such as a June 19 gig at the popular singer-songwriters’ haunt Molly Malone’s Irish Pub in Los Angeles. “Maybe I’m old fashioned when it comes to romance, but it will always be there even though the world has changed so much and is so different now. What happened to romance? It’s the same question we keep asking ourselves. The answer is different for each one of us.” 

The charismatic Davis was invited to perform at the prestigious I Create Music ASCAP Expo in Los Angeles on May 1 and at the Durango Songwriters Film/TV Expo on May 15 in Ventura, California.

The songs contained on “What Happened To Romance” are:
“Love Comes Right On Time”
“You’re Gonna Fall In Love With Me”
“What Happened To Romance”
“This Time”
“Perfectly Perfect”
“I Found Love”
“Let’s Keep It A Secret”
“Day In, Day Out”
“If You Were Mine”
“Close Your Eyes”
“If I Could Give You More”
“All By Myself”
“Sometime Soon”
“Young Love”

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Ben Williams - "Coming Of Age" - Released on Concord Records - #jazz


Continuing to implore the common elements of jazz, hip-hop, rock and soul, the young bandleader embarks on a bolder journey in this album with more music by his own hand and a reflection of his new outlook as a seasoned musician. Coming of Agefor the 30-year-old Williams means playing a lively role among his peers and a vital part in the music world at large. Winner of the 2009 Monk Institute Competition, Williams cites this as a turning point in his musical odyssey, "My career as a bandleader and composer started from the moment I won,” he says. "I had this opportunity to say something—and an obligation, too.”

Revered by The Washington Post as "Successfully translating the musical pulse of his era into jazz,” Williams has secured a masterful selection of special guests featured on this project. They include renowned jazz trumpeter Christian Scott on the cover of Lianne La Havas’ melancholy "Lost & Found” that is draped by a string quartet, vibraphonist Stefon Harris on an original piece titled "The Color of My Dreams,” and emcee/poet W. Ellington Felton who leads the listener through "Toy Soldiers (reprise).” Williams also reconnects with American soul singer Goapele for a second collaboration with the pivotal anthem "Voice of Freedom (for Mandela).” Completing the vision is Williams band, Sound Effect, comprised of Marcus Strickland (tenor and soprano saxophone),Matthew Stevens (guitar), Christian Sands (piano and Fender Rhodes), Masayuki "Big Yuki” Hirano (synths and Fender Rhodes), John Davis (drums) and Etienne Charles (percussion).

The CD offers eleven tracks with nine original compositions by Williams and the rare vinyl addition offers eight pieces from the CD’s repertoire, including a free download of all eleven tracks.

Showcasing his impeccable talent for acoustic and electric bass, this album creates an experience that demands to be heard by a wide breadth of generations

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 20 - April 20, 2015 #jazz

TW - LW - Artist - Album - (Label)
1 - 1 - Jonathan Fritzen - "Fritzenized" - (Nordic Night Records)
2 - 2 - Marion Meadows - "Soul Traveler" - (Shanachie)
3 - 3 - Brian Simpson - "Out Of A Dream" - (Shanachie)
4 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Can You Feel It" - (Artistry)
5 - 6 - Nelson Rangell - "Red" - (Independent)
6 - 7 - Paolo Rustichelli - "Walking in Rome (Soul Italiano) - (Next Age Music)
7 - 8 - Brian Culbertson - "Live-20th Anniversary Tour" - (BCM Entertainment)
8 - 9 - Kim Waters - "Silver Soul" - (Red River Entertainment)
9 - 11 - Cindy Bradley - "Bliss" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
10 - 5 - The Jazzmasters - "The Jazzmasters VII" - (Trippin 'N' Rhythm)
11 - 10 - Peter White - "Smile" - (Heads Up/CMG)
12 - 12 - Jazz Funk Soul - "Jazz Funk Soul" - (Heads Up)
13 - 20 - Boney James - "Futuresoul" - (Concord)
14 - 15 - Jeff Golub - "The Vault" - (eOne Music)
15 - 14 - Ben Tankard - "Full Tank 2.0" - (ben-jammin')
16 - 17 - Euge Groove - "Got 2 Be Groovin' (Shanachie)
17 - 16 - Gerald Albright - "Slam Dunk" - (Heads Up)
18 - 13 - Nathan East - "Nathan East" - (Yamaha Ent. Group)
19 - 19 - James Lloyd - "Here We Go" - (Shanachie)
20 - 18 - Michael Lington - "Soul Appeal" - (Copenhagen Music)

Our thanks to smoothjazz.comVisit to view the latest complete top 50 chart. Visit to view the latest weekly chart recap.
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