The core of the NYC “The City Boys Allstars”, a jazz / rock ensemble with funk, soul, blues and gospel influences, Mike Merola (guitar) – in 1988 he was the founder of the band / he is the glue group, which keeps everything together, Al MacDowell (bass) – it is the replacement of the deceased Keith Lambeth, Rob Clores (keys) and Nick Saya (drums). Add to this three top singers (Horace Scott II, Rissoff Angel & Kurz Bil) and a horn section (Tony Kadleck & Lew Soloff: trumpet / Andy Snitzer, “Blue Lou” Marini and Tom “Bones” Malone: sax / Tom “Bones “Malone trombone), then the group of fourteen excellent musicians complete the recording of a new studio album. It is the last album with jazz trumpeter Lew Soloff (1944-2015), which Merola in 1989 already met and whom he considered his mentor. For many Lew Soloff is best known for the rock group “Blood, Sweat & Tears”. Soloff but was also active in pop music. He worked for vocalists like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, as well as Elvis Costello, Lou Reed and Paul Simon. Furthermore Soloff played on records by blues musicians like John Mayall and Dr. John. Soloff died in March from the effects of a heart attack.
Mike Merola had a guitar when he was nine years old. His favorite guitarists Albert King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Les Paul and Robben Ford. Al MacDowell as if he was six years old, his mother followed classical piano lessons. This was for him the beginning of a long path through the music. MacDowell has worked with giants like the American jazz musician Ornette Coleman, “Public Enemy”, Billy Joel and Grace Jones. MacDowell has three albums with own material. Rob Clores is of course classical / jazz educated but is naturally R & B and blues grounded. Clores worked with Enrique Iglesias, “The Black Crowes” and “Southside Johnny”. Nick Saya is a producer, drummer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Saya also writes music for TV and film.
After a stop of seventeen years, was published in 2012 the album “When You Needed Me.” Appeared as an extra in the past year “Blinded By The Night”, an album that was recorded live on August 28th 2013 in the “Cutting Room” club in Manhattan, NYC. “Personal Thing” is the third studio album of the band. On one cover after (a number of Josef Erich Sawinul), most songs were written by four of the band members (Al MacDowell / Horace D. Scott / Angel Rissoff / Bil Kurz). Furthermore, we should mention one guest: slide guitarist Robert Ross.
The instrumental opener “Birdland” (a reworking of a number of Josef Erich Sawinul) is like a wake-up call. You open the eyes, looks around, do not know what comes over you and then realizes what is happening. Bassist Al MacDowell wrote the title song “Personal Thing”. During this quiet jazzy song close your eyes and forget your best moment everything. “Fine Wine” is a piece of soul, you definitely like the slow Bil Kurz “I Will not Write Your Song” with your lover on the dance floor gets. “Summer Nights” is another delicious long-drawn groove that puts especially Merola in the spotlight. Angel Rissoff wrote the R & B vibes with Latino tinged song “Sugar Bowl” which is not only very attractive, but also vocally top. With “Baby” the band expands here an extension to, then again to go all out with the funky soul song “I’m A Real Nice Guy You Would not Like Me.” “Will Have To Do” is before we go completing a nice short crooner song, still just keep the door open for “Meaning Of Life”. This instrumental jazzy valve around with many grooves, panache and class. As we like to have it!
With their energetic, swinging mix of rock, jazz, R & B and blues bring Mike Merola and his “City Boys Allstars” from the first chords, the audience in the right mood. This album is thanks to fourteen top musicians again for variety, thoroughness and mood, even though it was night in NYC maybe dark and chilly. Yes, I got the thrill! …
Album tracks: 1 “Birdland” [Josef Erich Sawinul] – 2 “Personal Thing” – 3 “Fine Wine” [Angel Rissoff] – 4 “I Will not Write Your Song” [Bil Kurz] – 5 “Shining Star” – 6 “Summer Nights” – 7 “Thru The Glass ‘[Horace D. Scott] – 8” Sugar Bowl “[Angel Rissoff] – 9” Baby “[Horace D. Scott / Leon Taylor / Charles Baskerville] – 10” I’ m A Real Nice Guy You Would not Like Me “[Bil Kurz] – 11” Will Have To Do “[Horace D. Scott] – 12” Meaning Of Life “- All songs by Al MacDowell Unless [Noted] – Produced by Tony Kadleck & Joseph Borges
Mike Merola: guitar
Al MacDowell: bass
Rob Clores: keys
Nick Saya: drums
Then Sadownick: percussion
Horace Scott II, Angel Rissoff, Bil Kurz: vocals
& The Horn section:
Tony Kadleck & Lew Soloff: trumpets
Andy Snitzer, “Blue Lou” Marini and Tom “Bones” Malone: saxes
Tom “Bones” Malone trombone
& Special guest:
Robert Ross: slide guitar (10)
1994: “Look Out Here We Come”
2012: “When You Needed Me”
2014: “Blinded By The Night” (Live from the Cutting Room, NYC, 2013)
2015: “Personal Thing”