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Audio CD, March 17, 2009
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The City Champs are the latest in a long lineage of Memphis musicians to grab the mantle of funky, soul-jazz instrumentals pioneered by acts like Booker T & the MGs, Willie Mitchell and The Bar-Kays.
The Safecracker features 7 prime cuts of Stax, Hi Records and Blue Note inspired soul-jazz and funk, produced and engineered by Memphis producer and film composer, Scott Bomar (the Bo-Keys, Hustle & Flow & Soul Men ) at his Electraphonic Recording studio. The sessions were tracked and mixed entirely on analog tape Bomar used his Scully 1 8-track machine, which was the same model used at Stax,Muscle Shoals Sound, and Chip s Moman s American Studio.
The City Champs are led by guitarist, Joe Restivo, who also penned the original material on the album. Joe is one of the premier R&B/Jazz guitarists in Memphis and holds a BFA in Jazz Studies from the prestigious New School in New York City, where he studied with jazz greats Jack Wilkins, Junior Mance, Cecil Bridgewater, and Phil Markowitz.
Organist Al Gamble, hails from the Muscle Shoals, Alabama region, and has performed live and on recordings with such notables as Rufus Thomas, Syl Johnson, Alex Chilton, and the Memphis Horns.
Drummer George Sluppick is a native Memphian who has spent most of his life on the road performing live and recording with may notables, including Albert King, Robert Walter's 20th Congress, Melvin Sparks, Ruthie Foster and JJ Grey and MOFRO.
Mastered straight off analog tapes, directly to disc by mastering engineer Larry Nix on the same equipment he used daily at Stax Records.
So why do I like this record? What's so great about the City Champs, anyhow? Well, I don t much care for your tone, but let me answer by asking you this: what s so great about a paper plate full of barbecue and a cold beer, hanging out on the front porch at the house party cause there s too damn many people in there? What s so right about a fine chick catching you checking her out and smiling at you anyway? What s so cool about finding a funky little joint with thick smoke, dim light, and greasy, soulful sounds spilling out the open front door at two in the morning? If you gotta ask, you ll never know. If you know already, don t waste time running down the runner-ups. Get with the City Champs. If this doesn't fix you, you re busted. --Charlie Wood (Memphis songwriter, keyboard player, curmudgeon)
Top customer reviews
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While called soul-jazz by some, the appeal is much wider for me. Great playing, deep grooves and wonderful melodies. I love great guitar, organ and drums whether in blues, roll, rock or soul. How about you? I think of this as three supreme musicians making magic: Joe Restivo, Al Gamble, and George Sluppick. Gamble is great on organ. Restivo is spot on and his guitar sounds great to me. And George Sluppick is simply great whenever I hear him on any recording. Same great drumming here. This record is recommended as family-friendly candy for your brain. Enjoy.
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Good stuff here. If you like Booker T & The MG's type of instrumental music then this might be for you. No bass here, just organ guitar and drums. Soulful and a little funky, this is well played. A few cuts are slightly more of a jazz flavor and it all works very well. Recommended for those who enjoy that Memphis instrumental soul groove.