It’s the holidays, a simple time, a relaxing break , and you are looking for a nice record to suit the mood. But that’s no reason not to still demand quality from musicians, compositions, sound. Pleasure is not synonymous with mediocrity and PERSONAL THING by the group THE CITY BOYS ALLSTARS is sound proof of this. The group could have disappeared as fate turned against their musicians including illness and death, but they stayed on track and are now used to keeping the spirit of the absent by their side.
Three singers with different styles and soul influences that blend well, Bil Kurz, Angel Rissoff & Horace Scott. Ten musicians with Mike Merola as a bandleader serve up bass, keyboards, drums / percussion, trumpets, saxophones, trombone. Notably absent is Lew Soloff who passed away in March 2015 and to whom the album is dedicated. * Traveling companions from the beginnings of the group in the ‘80s, Merola has lost his mentor but retained his lessons. Four composers, Al MacDowell, Horace D. Scott, Angel Rissoff & Bil Kurz, all group members, make for pieces that fit into a force of strong musicality. In a way this “big band” ensures spontaneity, dynamism, theatricality throughout the diversity of genres performed. From jazz to blues, from rock to soul, funk to gospel, the music is sparkling, inspired, fun. Birdland The opening song is a cover of Joe Zawinul.
What the Manhattan Transfer had released as a song, here it is in the form of a jam session so that it is a completely new work. It puts one THERE in the album. The tracks follow each other without resembling each other, a harmonic palette with extended range, song intonations and moods are well marked. There is not a second of boredom, always another detail that catches your ears, holds your attention. Personal Thing, I Will not Write Your Song seduce you gently. Sugar Bowl with fine vocal effects has a Latin sound, gay and alive. Will Have To Do is in the tradition of crooners from across the Atlantic after the war. American from the first to the last note. Crafted and entertaining, technically accessible, generous and simple. Sophisticated and elegant. A strong companion whom it’s hard to leave.
17/20. Catherine CODRIDEX
* Translator’s note: Lew Soloff DID play on this album, which was the last published recording before his death