Marc Bonilla, Toy Matinee and 3rd Matinee
Scheduled for release on February 3, 2009 in Digipaks with liner notes are Bonilla's two albums (EE Ticket and American Matador) as well as Toy Matinee's self-titled debut album and the sole album from its spinoff band, 3rd Matinee, titled Meanwhile.
By the time Bonilla released his debut album on Reprise, EE Ticket in 1991, the guitarist/composer had made a name for himself in TV and film scoring, and taught at the Guitar Institute of Technology. EE Ticket merged his fleet-fingered technique with a sleek modernist sensibility and featured his own compositions with the exception of a hyperactive interpretation of the Creedence Clearwater Revival chestnut "Commotion." Bonilla's partner in crime was Kevin Gilbert, who produced and engineered the album as well as contributing keyboards and programming. Prog-rock keyboard legend Keith Emerson plays piano on the swinging "White Noise" while hard-rock guitar icon Ronnie Montrose trades licks with Bonilla on "Razorback."
American Matador, Bonilla's second Reprise album in 1993, showcased the guitarist's technical mastery and stylistic versatility. It was mostly instrumental, but Bonilla did make a rare vocal appearance on "Wake the Baby." Though he recorded with a small ensemble of Troy Luccketta of Tesla and Anastasios "Toss" Panos, Bonilla contributed the bass parts himself. Frank Zappa alumnus Mike Keneally plays organ on a cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," which appears in both vocal and instrumental versions. The former features the distinctive voice of ex-Deep Purple/Trapeze member Glenn Hughes. Whereas EE Ticket was more of what Bonilla calls "a textbook debut album," American Matador was "more of a personal endeavor. I had taken a deep breath and a couple of swallows and had matured a bit. I think that's reflected in the music."
In its brief existence, Toy Matinee — an L.A.-based art-pop band based around producer/composer/keyboardist Patrick Leonard and singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Kevin Gilbert — produced just one album, the self-titled Toy Matinee in 1990. At the time of the band's formation, Leonard had achieved massive success as Madonna's producer and frequent songwriting collaborator and was eager to recharge his batteries on a new setting. He discovered Gilbert in a band competition that was won by Gilbert's combo Giraffe. Bill Bottrell was brought in as producer. But when it came for the band to perform live, Gilbert assembled a band that included not only Marc Bonilla (who would release his own Gilbert-produced solo album in '91) but Gilbert's then-girlfriend Sheryl Crow. Leonard eventually returned to his production career, while Gilbert (along with Bottrell and Brian MacLeod) became a key force in the musical collective that spawned Sheryl Crow's multiplatinum solo debut, Tuesday Night Music Club. Gilbert also launched a solo career and became an in-demand studio player prior to his death at the age of 29 in May 1996.
Although Toy Matinee's debut—reissued here with bonus tracks--proved also to be its swan song, much of the band's progressive spirit lived on in 3rd Matinee, whose 1994 album Meanwhile teamed Patrick Leonard with former Mr. Mister singer/guitarist Richard Page. Leonard and Page had begun writing together two years earlier on a large cachet of songs including the Madonna hit "I'll Remember." The band also featured guitarist Tim Pierce, bassist Guy Pratt and drummer Brian MacLeod, all from Toy Matinee, along with Marc Bonilla (there he is again) and Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro. Leonard and Page wrote the album's 11 songs, three of them in collaboration with the Dream Academy (whose 1987 album Remembrance Day Leonard had produced.) Meanwhile was the only release under the 3rd Matinee banner. Leonard returned to producing while Page launched a solo career and kept busy as a session singer. The album impressed enough ears to ensure 3rd Matinee an impressive degree of posthumous prestige.
Click here to read today's full Day in Rock report