City Blog

Gideon King & City Blog

GJKSounds, 2015

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The City Blog project is quite an ambitious one. Masterminded by New York City-based composer and guitarist Gideon King, this project brings together a slew of singers and musicians, creating jazz-infused rock music for the average listener. However, much like eating out at a hoity-toity restaurant, where the expectation is that the food will be nothing less than exceptional simply because the chef/restaurateur has an impressive resume, it seems that this project is all about the different contributors’ musical repertoire. Right from King’s website to the description of this album elsewhere, the on-paper heft of the talent on this record is made out to be a huge part of the musical experience.

City Blog is a pretty well made album, through and through; and yes, King has a long description of the illustrious musicians on this album, who are the main reason for how good the album is. However, the listener does not need to be aware of the supposed “handpicked” talent on this record to enjoy it. This is because this disc is totally unpretentious, and all the name-dropping isn’t all that important to make the experience whole. Although this could be considered a crossover release, it is very much a jazz album at heart. And there is a certain sense of haughtiness that oftentimes comes with consumption of this art form that is so anti pop-music. But with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 City Blog, this is absolutely not the case.

This is an album that is both sophisticated and simple – a true crossover that ventures beyond the confines of jazz and into other genres, yet keeps things elegant and unassuming throughout. The list of contributors here is long, but never at any point does the album feel like a case of “too many cooks,” as it sounds like it has been performed by one cohesive unit, whose members have a mutual respect for one another.

The whole disc has a chilled-out loungey vibe, which comes from its jazz roots. Even though King is primarily a guitarist, he certainly doesn’t try to dominate the music. In fact, most of the songs are guitar as well as piano-based, with all the other musicians and most importantly the singers, playing important roles, performing in flawless unity. Even during the occasional guitar solos (for instance, on tracks like “New York Is,” “Dirty Bastard,” and “Just Play”), King does not hog the limelight, but still gives a solid performance – more like a guitar-man of an indie band than a solo jazz virtuoso. However, when he takes the center-stage, he totally nails it, like his amazing acoustic guitar strumming on the album highlight “Glide,” which totally steals the show.

This project is a tribute to New York City, with said theme defining the sound and lyrics of the album. As a result, this collection of songs feels very urban, and one could picture them being played at a lounge in a big city jazz club by a full-fledged group of talented musicians and true professionals. As King mentions in a rightfully gloating way on his website, “Gideon is bringing back real music, with real chord changes, real solos, real instruments, and real humans improvising and lending their souls to Gideon King & City Blog.”

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2016 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of GJKSounds, and is used for informational purposes only.