Saturday, September 27th
11:30PM 90 Min set
The Cutting Room
44 East 32nd Street
NY NY 10010
Guitars: Mike Merola
Bass: Al MacDowell
Keys: Rob Clores
Drums: Nick Saya
Percussion: Daniel Sadownick
Vocals: Bil Kurz, Angel Rissoff, Horace Scott
Trumpets: Tony Kadleck & Lew Soloff
Sax’s: Blue Lou Marini & Andy Snitzer
Trombone: Tom Bones Malone
“BLINDED BY THE NIGHT”
Street Date: September 2, 2014
Musicians: Mike Merola, guitar; Al MacDowell, 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, Lou Marini, and Tom Malone, saxophones; Tom Malone, trombone. Horn arrangements by Tony Kadleck, Tom Malone, Lou Marini, Jim Pugh, Fred Lipsius, and Pete Levin.
“Speak the truth!” That was one of the heartfelt rallying cries shouted by members of The City Boys Allstars at their gig at The Cutting Room in home base New York City on the evening of August 28, 2013. As the band’s first performance in 17 years, it was a very special night, and the new albumBlinded By the Night captures all the excitement generated by these ten musicians and three singers, who are among the most honest and skilled performers in the country. No band anywhere sounds like the fun-but-serious City Boys Allstars, whose alluring combination of jazz, R&B, blues, soul, and rock elements seems at once classic and fresh. There are tight horn bands but these gentlemen are more than that. “What really strikes me is [how] playing together comes extremely easy,” affirms bandleader Mike Merola, whose sure-fingered guitar playing acknowledges Joe Pass (jazz) and B. B. King (blues) as influences. “There was always chemistry here that everybody seems to dig. Nobody could say this was a put-together band because these guys have been into it since the day they met me and I came up with the concept in 1988.” In preparation for the Cutting Room concert, the horn and rhythm sections only needed a couple rehearsals to get the communicative chemistry just right. After one full-band workout, they were more than ready for the Manhattan club date.
Mike Merola’s band brings resonant authority to all nine songs on Blinded By the Night.. The horns crackle with ebullience, and the rhythm section shows its sturdiness and dependability. Each of the three vocalists--Bil Kurz, Angel Rissoff, and Horace Scott II-- sparkles in his own way, alert to the expressive properties of the words and to the arc of melodies belonging to strong material from within the band (Angel Rissoff, Horace Scott II) or from outside sources (Robbie Robertson, ex-Country Joe & the Fish member David Bennet Cohen, late great NYC blues singer Frankie Paris, and the Billie Holiday songbook).
Solos, placed thoughtfully in the crisp, intelligent arrangements, are uniformly excellent, as one might expect from world-class jazzmen like trumpeters Lew Soloff (“God Bless the Child,” “Funky Peaches,” “Where Have You Been?”), Tony Kadleck (“The Vow”), Andy Snitzer (“When You Needed Me”), jazz & blues saxophonist Lou Marini (“Testimony,” “More Where That Came From”), and guitarist Mike Merola (“God Bless the Child,” “Funky Peaches,” “City Boy Blues,” “Strung Out”), and, not least, keyboardist Rob Clores (“Where Have You Been?”). Without question, bassist Al MacDowell, drummer Nick Saya, and percussionist Daniel Sadownick are as important to the success of City Boys Allstars music as the others, evidencing their considerable skills while radiating pure energy at all times. One of many highlights: MacDowell and Sadownick conjure deep NYC/New Orleans magic when putting a charge into “City Boy Blues.” Each and every band member is deeply devoted to making the best music possible, and they do just that.
It’s certainly worth noting the high quality of the album’s sound reproduction. Kudos go to mastering wizard Greg Calbi--his credits are innumerable, including the latest batch of Beatles reissues--and to expert mixer Joseph Borges, from Broccoli Rabe Entertainment Complex, the acclaimed sound recording studio industry firm in New Jersey.
All’s going very well for Mike Merola and the City Boys Allstars. In addition to the release of the concert album, there’s a stirring new studio album ready to go. Longtime and new fans of the band will be happy to know these ace singers and musicians, despite being in demand for other projects, are committed to finding the time for more gigs, both stateside and overseas. “This thing could really explode,” the bandleader says with characteristic honesty. “I don’t think there’s anything like us out there, quite frankly.”