Second Cup Café: Gino Vannelli

Canadian musician Gino Vannelli has been making his own brand of jazz-influenced pop music since the 1970s. Now he's back with a new album, "These Are The Days," a mix of seven of his hit songs and seven new tracks.

He visits Second Cup Café to perform selections from the new set.

Vannelli was born in Montreal to a family that loved music. His father Russ was a big band musician who played with Maynard Ferguson. His brothers Joe and Rob are also musicians.

His first instrument was the drums which he studied, along with music theory, for five years.

By the age of 12, Vannelli had formed his first band and a year later formed a second one with Joe. He also learned to play guitar, piano, and started to sing.

Vannelli landed his first record deal when he was 17, but his goal was to be signed to a record company in the United States. So, he and his brother Joe traveled to New York and then Los Angeles for a discouraging attempt to get record executives interested.

After being rejected by almost every major label, Vannelli tracked down A&M records big Herb Alpert and begged him for a chance to audition. Alpert liked what he heard and signed the young musician, who ended up recording six albums for the label.

During the 1970s, Vannelli toured as the opening act for Stevie Wonder, was the first white artist to appear on "Soul Train" and was nominated for a Best Pop Performance Grammy for his hit song "I Just Wanna Stop."

In the 1980s, Vannelli released the albums "Black Cars" and "Big Dreamers," both of which did well in Europe. In the 1990s, he began experimenting with jazz, releasing two largely acoustic records on the venerable Verve label. He even branched out and released an album of classical music in 2003.

"These Are The Days" marks Vannelli's return to pop music. The album will be followed with another set of all new original material.

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