Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Up From the Underground : Gideon King & City Blog "City Blog"

Not since Sade has jazz fusion mixed so well in a way that the songs are not relying on chops alone to do all the heavy heavy lifting. Hailing from New York, this projects even features members of Steely Dan. the lyrics are more biting than you would expect from this brand of jazz fusion. The first thing that caught my ear is how pianist Kevin Hays tears it up. Gideon King is certainly no slouch on the guitar, his over driven tone on the solos reminds me of Frank Zappa, who is in my top ten guitarists of all time, so if you can draw comparisons to him then you are doing something right. "See in Double" is a song that while indulges in laid back lounge jazz would still not be out of place in today's pop market, who finds blue eyed soul artists like Sam Smith dipping into more jazz based phrasing

.Gideon surrounds himself with stellar players as also evident in Donny McCasslin's sax work. "Down" is an ode to the lyrics "send in the clowns/ one direction down" is like hip-hop artists calling each other out , which as you now I am not afraid to call bull shit on music that is lacking so I can appreciate his thoughts on this though, the blanket statement that "music of today is like a cloud covering the earth" might be a polarized view, though I imagine King's taste runs to the right of mine. "New York is " is breezy jazz until the guitar and sax solos come into to add some fire to things.Despite the relaxed almost James Taylor like cadence of the melody "Friendship Cliche" continues the streak of blunt lyrics, here he looks at friends that only call him once a year and are smiles for hire. The voices of Carolyn Leonhart and Grace Weber adds soul and elegance to the album. While in some ways their altos are similar its apparent that Leonhart comes from more of a traditional jazz background and Weber's benefits from a more sultry croon. There is a touch of western Eagles like rock to the strum of "Glide" with the vocals poured over the guitars groove like syrup. "Dirty Bastard" is largely dominated by the piano, with the guitar fills adding the velvet window dressing. The dirty bastard is declared ok by King, before he rips into one of the album's best solos.Here the solos really add a lot to the songs rather than the songs being vehicles for him to shred over. Leonhart harmonizes with him on "Just Play", invoke a Norah Jones feel to song. The instrumentation on this one is very balanced with no one instrument taking up the spot light, even when the guitar takes a solo at the end."

Broken Noise" revisits the the song "Down" but is mainly a vocal take on it with piano and bass building back into it at the midway point before it transitions into a different take on the opener , giving the album a full circle feeling.This album stands alone in many ways. Despite some of the more pop like jazz leanings fans of Frank Zappa will appreciate this, while there is not the joking sense of zaniness abounding, when its time to shut and play his guitar it gets serious in light of the biting social commentary of the lyrics. Which are more refined statements than Zappa which were always veiled in joke, King makes his feeling about music of today very known as well as the lacking social graces. If you play guitar this album is a must, if you don't but like thought provoking music well there is plenty of that to be found as well.

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