ALBUM REVIEW: Gideon King & City Blog, ‘City Blog’

Written by Album Reviews, Music

Though Gideon King’s band sounds more like a digital music publication than a collaborative group of musicians, “City Blog” is actually an amalgamation of who’s who when it comes to jazz, rock, pop, and fusion. Don’t believe me? I don’t often simply list the members of a band, but when you have players like this, how can you not?

Joining guitarist, composer, and producer King are:

  • Bassists James Genus and Matt Penman. Genus serves as bassist for both Herbie Hancock and Daft Punk (begging the question of how versatile can one person possibly be?), as well as sitting in with the Saturday Night Live band, while Penman is a noted upright bassist in the New York City jazz scene.
  • Both noted for their eclectic skills, Willard Dyson and Donald Edwards contribute drums, while Kevin Hays, who’s toured with John Scofield and recorded with Brad Mehldau, is master of the keys. Donny Mccaslin, one of the hottest names in New York jazz, sits in on tenor sax and flute on two tracks as well.
  • On vocals are Marc Broussard, who’s well known for his “Bayou Soul” and Carolyn Leonhart, a staple of Steely Dan’s backup section. Meanwhile Oprah alum Grace Weber is joined by Elliot Skinner and Saul Kurtz to round out the ensemble.

The outfit’s self-titled debut, out now, blends together distinct genres, talents, and styles to create a collection that’s a little bit Donald Fagan, a bit of Stevie Wonder, and big helping of New York City street jazz, the kind you hear wafting out of venues like the Blue Note, Fat Cat, and Village Gate. Strong opener “City Blog” has a cool, chill vibe that sets the tone for what’s to come, while “See In Double” features percussive textures and emotive lyrics that showcase the depth of talent here. A personal favorite of mine, “New York Is” displays what’s so cool about the Big Apple, and as a former New Yorker, I particularly appreciated not only the vocal tribute, but also the vibe, gait, and blend of musical lines that make the song as swanky and mysterious as the city itself. Other standouts are the simply beautiful and classy “Glide” as well as the closer, “Broken Noise,” perhaps the least complex of the tracks presented here, but augmented with spot-on harmonies.

Admittedly, even listeners not familiar or not into jazz will find something to love in this fusion-rich album. Mastermind Gideon King has truly taken something unexpected and turned it into an essential listen for even the most finicky music lover. I guarantee that after just one listen to City Blog, you’ll be begging for more.