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Heat - Tom Saviano
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Back in November of 1979, deeply respected saxophonist and arranger Tom Saviano as­sembled a group of outstanding musicians and vocalists to create an incredible jazz infused R&B/Pop debut album under the band name HEAT. At the time, Saviano had just come off of working extensively with Melissa Manchester as musical director on her tours as well as in the studio. But now his HEAT project was literally turning up the fire on his talents as a writer, producer, arranger and musician.
In addition to the outstanding vocal talents of Jean Marie Arnold & Joe Pizzulo, Saviano booked players for the HEAT sessions that have since gone onto legendary status such as David Foster, Paul Jackson Jr., Neil Stubenhaus, Jai Winding, Steve Porcaro, James Gadson, Harvey Mason, Lenny Castro, Jerry Hey, Chuck Findley and more. Those initial HEAT recordings captured that “lightning in a bottle” that ignited as soon as the heads hit the tape. Billboard, Cashbox and other trade magazines at the time immediately recognized the debut HEAT mu­sic as a force that came blazing into the atmosphere with a sophisticated presence usually expected from veterans such as Quincy Jones or a team like Maurice White & Charles Stepney.
The album contained eight phenomenal compositions that Saviano co-wrote, co-produced, arranged and performed. With only its simple, stark black album cover with the red flame HEAT logo design across the top, listeners who didn’t bother to read the liner notes had no idea of the talent involved or who masterminded putting together this horn laden groove-fest. All that mattered was the MUSIC. Tracks like “Pickin’ And Choosin’”, “This Love That We’ve Found” and “Just Like You” received extensive airplay on R&B and Pop radio while climbing the Billboard charts with a bullet. “Just Like You” was also hand picked by Debbie Allen and used for her dance feature on an episode of the FAME television series as well as being covered on the “Kids From FAME” soundtrack album.
A 2nd HEAT album titled STILL WAITING was released in 1981 featuring Jean Marie-Arnold & Ed Whiting on vocals. Many session cats from the first album returned along with newcomers like Barnaby Finch, David Diggs & Pat Kelley. More energetic arrangements and performances were found on tracks like “Don’t Waste A Minute”, “Follow You Home” and “Still Waiting”. But the release was complicated by behind the scenes legal issues combined with record company politics that caused a leak in the fuel tanks at lift off. This resulted in no PR or music video being produced at a point when the music industry was on the precipice of an evolution; a new breakout music channel that was about to change the playing field called MTV. Bands who hadn’t established a strong visual image and presence were suddenly overlooked. And just like that, HEAT faded into the sunset…
Or did it?Over the decades, Tom Saviano has continued to write, produce and record with up and coming artists while also maintaining his first call status, touring and working sessions with es­tablished acts like Ray Charles, Ringo Starr, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, The Sons Of Champlin, Brenda Russell, Muse, Maroon 5 and many others. Tom has also received a steady stream of positive feedback regarding HEAT’s music. It turns out that HEAT had been rediscovered through the years from the three separate limited edition CD releases of both albums in Japan. Individual HEAT tracks have also appeared on various European music compilations. Other examples of the popularity and power of HEAT’s music is the sampling that has taken place over the last few years (some authorized, some not) by popular DJ’s from around the world like Louis La Roche, Michael Fraser & Chesto on”Prick Stick” aka “Don’t Waste A Minute” and Joey Negro/The Sunburst Band on “We Can Live Forever” aka “Whatever It Is”. There is no mistaking the foundation behind these remixes. All of this activity has kept the extraordinary HEAT name and music alive and enabled collectors and music enthusiasts to “extend the vine” regarding these two albums.
Even in light of a rock band out of Sweden that has chosen to go by the acronym “H.E.A.T” since 2008, let there be no confusion when it comes to the music or which group came first.
So in February of 2012, Saviano decided to begin re-examining all of the original HEAT record­ings. Time and technology has enabled him to go back and meticulously reshape the sound field on chosen songs by adding (and sometimes subtracting) musical elements within each track to give them a modern groove and feel. Saviano was also able to improve the overall fidelity by giving the recordings a wider frequency and impact. As of this writing in Febru­ary of 2013, the very best selections from both HEAT discs are in the final mixing stages as Tom Saviano has now ushered this music through a whole new door. The way the changes have been so tastefully executed is extremely impressive. Expanding upon this project are five previously unheard tracks that were recorded during the same 80’s period as the initial HEAT releases that have also been revitalized though recent production sessions. This new release titled REVISITED features exciting new contributions from musicians and vocalists including Bill & Tamara Champlin, Vinnie Colaiuta, Michael O’Neill, Charles “Icarus” Johnson, Nathan East, Carmen Grillo, Bruce Gaitsch and more!
Looking forward, anything is possible. A live HEAT tour has been discussed and new HEAT music is being developed. “Sav” has the energy and enthusiasm of somebody in their twenties and the sky’s the limit in terms of what could possibly happen. Regardless of if you’re just now discovering HEAT or revisiting this fantastic music, I sincerely hope you’ll spread the word and turn others onto Tom Saviano’s newly transfused, exhilarating compilation.
Scott Gross

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