The City Boys Allstars – Blinded By The Night
I’ve been enjoying this release since its arrival – albeit a good while ago! The City Boys Allstars comprise of the cream of New York City’s jazz, soul, blues and funk musicians, led by Mike Merola on guitar. The band reunited on the night of 28th August, 2013 at The Cutting Room venue in NYC, after a 17- year break and the evening is beautifully captured here with the 13 musicians and singers on board on top form!
A roll-call would be appropriate at this stage, so apart from the afore-mentioned Mike Merola, the band comprise of: Al McDowell (bass), Rob Clores (keyboards), Nick Saya (drums), Daniel Sadownick (percussion), Bil Kurz, Angel Rissoff and Horace Scott II (vocals), Tony Kadleck and Lew Soloff (trumpets), Andy Snitzer and “Blue Lou” Marini (saxophones), and last, but not least, Tom “Bones” Malone (saxophone and trombone) – a stellar outfit who between them have played with The Blues Brothers Band, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, Jack McDuff, Grace Jones and a host more famous names.
The nine tracks here give all the musicians a chance to shine and they are down to business on the opening “Testimony”, a very funky arrangement of this well-known Robbie Robertson song; keyboard player Rob Clores sparkles on the Angel Rissoff and Richard Barken penned strutter “Where Have You Been”, with glorious trumpet solo from Lew Soloff. The classic Billie Holiday song, “God Bless The Child”, is a stand out here, with a lovely introduction from the assembled horns and superb vocal from Horace Scott II.
Elsewhere the soulful Frankie Paris tune, “Strung Out” is given a heartfelt vocal from Bil Kurz – the tale of substance abuse and its perils, also sees band leader Mike Merola supply some very tasteful, yet understated, guitar leads; the pace is taken down for the heartfelt “The Vow”, which again features keyboard player Rob Clores, with some lovely piano, and a spotlight for the trumpet of Tony Kadleck. The jazz funk groove of “When You Needed Me” is most appealing with the assembled horns to the fore again.
This most enjoyable live CD ends with a bang in the form of the New Orleans-flavoured “City Boy Blues”, penned by David Bennet Cohen, with another fine guitar solo from Mike Merola, and sterling work from the rhythm section of Al McDowell and Nick Saya. Definitely recommended for all lover of big-band funk, jazz, blues, soul . . . and more!