Smitty: Well, there are few artists on the planet that can blow you away both on stage and in the studio. Case in point, my next guest. His great new record is called No Limits and let me tell ya, he has spared nothing with this great record, and I must tell you, you will be completely blown away when you hear this CD. He was 2007 International Instrumental Artist of the Year at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, he’s won numerous awards since then, he has become a fan favorite, and when you hang with him on a cruise ship, it is on! Please welcome my incredible guest, my man, Koch recording artist, Mr. Nick Colionne. Nick, how ya be, my friend?
Nick Colionne (NC): What’s up, Smitty?
Smitty: Oh, it’s all good, man, and it’s gotta be good for you. You got a new record, everything is cool in Chicago.
NC: Everything is cold here in Chicago. (Laughs.)
Smitty: Yeah, man, and the Cubs are winning.
NC: That’s a good thing.
Smitty: As a follow-up to Keepin’ It Cool, this is just incredible music! You really titled it right when you called it No Limits because you have touched all buttons with this great new record.
NC: Oh, thank you, Smitty. I just wanted to try to make a record that everybody would enjoy. Try to touch a little bit of everybody with this project and hope that it does that, that it reaches out and hit a whole bunch of people right where they live, in the heart.
Smitty: Yeah, man. I mean, this record is not for the faint of heart.
Smitty: I mean, this is a CD that you could just put on the radio and the DJ can hit random and take a break, a long break, you know what I’m saying?
NC: (Both laugh.) Thanks, man. My goal was to make a record that when you wanted a little different flavor in your music, you didn’t have to take this record off, you know? If you want to hear something a little upbeat or then you want to move the chains, you wouldn’t have to change records. That’s what I was trying to do.
Smitty: And that’s it. You did it.
NC: Think you’ll like that.
Smitty: Yeah, man. I mean, the first track, it’s there, man. When you hear the first track, “No Limits,” the title track, you know right away that this is going to be a record that you can just put on and do your thing, What ever that may be.
NC: That was the whole purpose behind the title and everything. No limits, you know? You’re not limited. If you’re having a dinner party, you’re not limited. You can change it to a dance party any time you get ready.
Smitty: Yeah, now I was joking a little bit about the DJ putting this on and just hitting random and taking a break, however, when I listened to this record, it reminded me of the days when radio would do a whole album side, in the vinyl days, and just let everybody enjoy the artist’s great musicianship, and I think this is a CD where they could just put this on and let everybody enjoy Nick Colionne. It should be the Nick Hour, you know what I’m saying?
NC: (Both laugh.) Yeah, I like that. My mother would like it a lot.
Smitty: Because when I listened to “The Big Windy Cat,” man, that is a killer song, and then you follow that up with “Melting into You,” and when I was listening to “Melting into You,” I could hear women screaming. (Both laugh.) Couldn’t you hear those women screaming, man?
NC: As long as they’re not screaming “Get off the stage,” it’s okay.
Smitty: (Laughs.) They were not screaming that, and if you didn’t hear it when you hear listen to this record, just show up at the gig and you will hear the women screaming when Nick Colionne starts screaming “Melting into You” because there’s some serious get down lyrics in this song.
NC: Yeah, it’s a great song. I wrote the song with Jim Peterik, formerly of the Ides of March and the group Survivor, and also was the writer of the theme song from Rocky, “Eye of the Tiger.”
NC: And “Vehicle” and all those great songs he wrote for 38 Special and stuff, so he’s a rocker, you know, and we met at Jazz On the Vine and decided “Let’s see what we could do together and see what we can come up with,” and “Melting into You” is actually the first song that we wrote together. The first day I went to his house, we sat down and we set out and we wrote that song and a couple of others, and the other song on the CD, which is called “Hard Line,” which is a more bluesy kind of number, we wrote that the same day. So we really clicked writing together. We played off each other’s lyrics, joking and cracking around, and it came out to be a really good song. I was a little bit hesitant in the beginning, but I was like “You know what? I’m gonna do this song,” you know? “I’m gonna do this song.” He was like “Man, look, you could do this.” I was like “I don’t know, Jim. I don’t know if I can pull it off.” He was like “Dude, we’re just gonna make it and put it in your low key, man.” He said “You live in the basement, man, so we’re gonna put it down there.” I was like “Okay.”
NC: And he was like “Okay.” We put it down there and we went for it.
Smitty: It’s down there, man. I mean, this is the bump and thump song. (Both laugh.)
NC: I don’t wanna hear about nobody bumpin’ and thumpin’ and not listening to the record. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: (Laughs) You know what? That’s too much information, huh?
Smitty: Well, when I think about No Limits, I’m looking for a record that has just a multiple of different types of music and you hit it spot on because “Melting into You” is, like you said, that really smooth, get down kind of song. “No Limits” just strikes a fire. And “Hard Line,” that’s a bluesy kind of song. I even heard some organ on this record.
NC: Oh yeah. Well, you know my boy John Blasucci, all of a sudden he decided he wanted to be a young Jimmy Smith or something, so we put a lot of organ in the record, and we use a lot of the organ sound on the live performance, so what we really were trying to get to was do a record that can come as close as we could to what we sound like live without doing a live recording.
Smitty: Yeah. Right.
NC: Something that sounds like what we do live but still radio friendly enough to be played on radio.
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely, and you hit it, man. I mean, you nailed it because another song that I think just really sets this record off is “Until Tonight.”
NC: That was the collaboration of me and “Hollywood” Dave Hiltebrand. Dave and I go off on these tangents with songs. I don’t know where they come from. (Laughs.) But it’s about a mood.
NC: And that’s why “Until Tonight,” it’s about the mood, and I think it’s just a nice mood. That’s what we were trying to get to and hopefully that’s what we created, a nice mood.
Smitty: Yeah, well, if anybody can set the right mood, it’s you and “Hollywood,” that’s for sure. (Both laugh.) Hey, and talk to me about “Ports of Call.”
NC: Well, you know the Cruise Man here. I started playing with that little stuff, man, and just playing that little hook line while I was on the cruise, just messing around, and then I kept playing with it. Actually on the 2007 cruise I started messing with that and kept playing with it at rehearsals and stuff, and some of the cats were saying “Hey, you really need to do something with that song, man. It’s a hip little cool tune.” And when I got ready to do this record, I went to it and pulled it up and started working it out, didn’t have a name, and I thought about how it had that kind of cruisin’ kind of feel to it, so I was like “You know what?” I started thinking about when I was walking around Cabo San Lucas and Cozumel and all the cool, different ports we’ve been hitting on these cruises.
NC: I was like “Okay, yeah, this is what this reminds me of. All my little ports of call that I’d jumped off on.”