Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as though the really talented artists on the market are those that refuse to be crammed into any one niche or genre. They’re the ones who can segue through a smooth singer/songwriter vibe and then rock it out on the next track. Plus, they’re also typically the artists that tend to be something of a music nerd, the kind of kids who grew up reading liner notes (when there were liner notes) and remembering who played saxophone on that nearly forgotten B-side.
Whether or not Gideon King was that music nerd or not, he definitely falls into the category of being an all-around musical talent. Born and raised in New York, King’s been playing guitar since the age of ten and has sat at the feet of many a great jazz and classical musician, soaking it all in and has experienced growing success every which way he turns. Inspired by his love of multiple genres, with a healthy dose of jazz fusion leading the way, King set about assembling a top notch cadre of musicians to serve as a studio band, dubbed Gideon King and City Blog.
With King himself featuring prominently on lead electric, synth, and acoustic guitars, he’s aided by notable bassists James Genus (Herbie Hancock, Daft Punk) and Matt Penman, drummers Willard Dyson and Donald Edwards, keyboardist Kevin Hays (John Scofield, Brad Mehldau), and saxophonist Donny McCaslin. Rounding out the vocal side of things are contributions from artists like Marc Broussard, Carolyn Leonhart (Steely Dan), and Grace Weber among others, a collective that’s simply too good to fail.
The title track leads things off with a funky vibe, Hays’ keyboards rolling brightly behind the husky vocals supplied by Saul Kurtz, while “See in Double” is a smooth slow jam that clears the way for a killer sax solo and plenty of improvisation. Broussard’s confident vocals shine on “Down,” a restless beat pressing the track forward while further keyboard histrionics from Hays deliver the goods, setting the table for some scintillating guitar work from King himself. Broussard takes lead again on “New York Is,” blending his voice with Leonhart while King steps forward again with another smoking solo alongside some tight sax fills before the funky drive of “Friendship Cliché” falters vocally but kicks musically.
Grace Weber’s honeyed vocals steal the show on “What Say You,” anchored by some warm acoustic guitars and solid drumwork while “Glide” drops a heavy beat, almost bridging the genres of bluegrass and jazz, with some amazing fretwork from King showing once again. In contrast to the chunky beats of the previous, “Dirty Bastard” is a smooth and sultry song where Elliott Skinner of Third Story takes vocal duties with ease while King shreds it up on electric guitar, surrounded by his striking supporting cast. “Just Play” allows for some solid improve, Hays’ keyboards and King’s guitars again stealing the show before the bluesy a cappella intro and slow burning soul of “Broken Noise” brings the album to a close on a high note.
Gideon King is a guy who knows his music, inside and out, and it shows through every note delivered on City Blog. Packed with tons of seasoned musicians and talented vocalists, King leads this City Blog with gusto, delivering a great listen for fans of jazz fusion, funk, and other things that remind you of Steely Dan.