City Blog is an impressively performed 10-song jazz-rock album by Gideon King, featuring several established and supremely talented musicians.
The album is primarily led by King’s smoothly played, intricate guitar lines. Proficient on electric, acoustic, and even synth guitar, King is flashy but not self-indulgent; undeniably skillful but not haughty about it. His playing in track #7 “Glide” is especially impressive.
The album is, however, far from reliant on King. City Blog is a virtual who’s-who of the best jazz and rock musicians: James Genus (Herbie Hancock, Daft Punk, SNL), Kevin Hays (John Scofield), and a rotating team of vocalists including Carolyn Leonhart (Steely Dan) lend their talents to King’s compositions.
Namedropping aside, this band can play. Solos in every song are tastefully virtuosic, whether from King, Hays (piano), Andy Gravish’s trumpet, or Donny Mccaslin’s sax and flute. King’s bio states that he is “bringing back real music, with real chord changes, real solos, real instruments, and real humans,” and this is not pretentious self-aggrandizement. The album is harmonically rich, with complex yet appealing jazz compositional techniques, and its songs are in different keys, time signatures, and moods (except tracks #3 and #4, which have extremely similar opening vocal melodies).
Lyrically, the album is sarcastic and doesn’t take itself too seriously: “every lefty I know is a fascist” (track #2 “See In Double”). The emphasis is definitely on its musicality, but the lack of lyrical sophistication doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the songs, much as rock lyrics don’t from theirs.
Produced exceptionally, the album was recorded at Strange Weather Studio, Jungle City Studios, Grand Street Recording, and No Bad Music Studio. This strikes a personal chord for me, as there are several studios going out of business because of the rise of home recording. There’s something lovely about recording in a studio and I think the professionalism of it makes musicians play better. This album would be a good example of that, if I had to argue my point.
King’s bio also states that he used to be a hedge fund manager, and before your mind leaps to the image of a rich, pompous capitalist, let me remind you the dude plays electric guitar like a motherfucking boss.
If that past life gave him the funds to work with these incredible musicians, patronize recording studios, and release a pristinely recorded gem of an album, more power to him. Listen on iTunes here.
1. City Blog
2. See in Double
4. New York Is
5. Friendship Cliche
6. What Say You
8. Dirty Bastard
9. Just Play
10. Broken Noise