monoblogue music: “City Blog” by Gideon King & City Blog

Sometimes there is a natural marriage between modern jazz and rock music. While the two genres don’t often meet and create commercial success, it doesn’t mean those with an appreciation of both styles don’t stop trying. Such is the case with guitarist Gideon King and the New York-based cast of studio players he’s selected known collectively as City Blog. (An interesting name, to be sure.)

There are a couple things you should know about this collection of ten songs. It borrows heavily from the improvisation jazz is known for, with ten songs running a total of almost fifty minutes. The longest, Down, runs over seven minutes and looks askance at the modern music scene; meanwhile, the shortest is the final track Broken Noise. That’s not so much a song as a mashup of different takes of three of the preceding songs.

In the rock world they would classify this as a jam band, and City Blog fulfills those elements with the additional instrumentation traditional to modern jazz.

Additionally, there is a cynicism in much of the lyrical content, a world-weariness reflected best in the lyrics of songs like the title track, Friendship Cliche, and Dirty Bastard. “City Blog” stands out, however, as a group with multiple singers: Elliott Skinner of the band Third Story handles City Blog and Dirty Bastard, Marc Broussard provides the vocals for Down and New York Is, Saul Kurtz does See In Double, and Grace Weber does What Say You and Glide. Carolyn Leonhart of Steely Dan fame is credited with background and lead vocals on several tracks as well. To me, Weber provided the vocal highlights in making her two songs stand out a little from the rest.

Overall, for the number of players involved, King does an excellent job of putting together a relatively seamless whole. There’s more than enough variety in the tracks to hold the aficionado’s interest.

“City Blog” certainly has the sophistication to appeal to those who have attained a certain station in life and live in the Thirties or Forties, but it’s good for the rest of us, too. If broadening your musical horizons is a goal, this is a good choice – and if you’re reading this on this last Saturday in September, you can get in on the ground floor because “City Blog” drops today. Here’s the self-titled lead single so you can judge for yourself.