Guy King – Truth | Album Review

guykingcdGuy King – Truth

Delmark Records – 2016

15 tracks: 71 minutes

Guy King was born in Israel but has lived and worked in the US since the age of 21.  Guy paid his dues on the competitive Chicago scene, playing with the late Willie Kent before forming his own band in 2006, since when he has played between 250 and 300 gigs a year across the many clubs in the city.  After several independent releases Guy is now making his Delmark debut and it commands attention.  Guy handles lead vocals and guitar duties with Amr Marcin Fahmy on keys, Jake Vinsel on bass and George Fludas on drums. A three man horn section of Christopher Neal on tenor, Brent Griffin Jr on baritone and Marques Carroll on trumpet are on most of the album and three background singers give Guy excellent support: Sarah Marie Young, Kiara Shackleford and Jihan Murray-Smith.  Guy wrote an instrumental and three songs here with David Ritz and there are eleven covers from a wide variety of blues artists including BB King, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson and Ray Charles.  The style is relaxed with more than a touch of jazz in Guy’s playing, at times recalling George Benson in his prime.  The whole album swings superbly and the playing and sonic qualities are excellent throughout.

Taking the originals first Guy’s “King Thing” is a tribute to BB with a swinging arrangement supporting Guy’s plucked guitar stylings, the horns adding depth and subtlety.  “My Happiness” is a sweet (and presumably autobiographical) love song performed as a duo with Sarah Marie in which Guy describes his encounter with the love of his life: “…until that certain righteous girl made him forget everything else”.  “A Day In A Life With The Blues” is a classic slow blues with smoky sax, cool guitar and electric piano all contributing but Guy’s vocal is the centre point and shows what a fine, relaxed singer he is.  The title track “Truth” adds some latin rhythms courtesy of drummer George and a brooding horn arrangement as Guy speaks out for honesty before he adds a solo which has quite a ‘bite’ to it within a smooth, jazzy arrangement.

Some of the highlights from the covers include opener “The Same Thing That Can Make You Laugh (Can Make You Cry)” which is a Ray Charles tune and opens with some typical RC piano and rattles along at pace with the horns and backing vocalists both adding to the enjoyment of the track, Guy showing his paces with a finely judged solo; a second, possibly better known Brother Ray tune “Hey Now” is also well done.  Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s “It’s About The Dollar Bill” has a superb horn arrangement and Guy also tackles some Memphis soul tunes in Steve Cropper and Don Covay’s “See Saw” and Homer Banks’ “If The Washing Don’t Get You (The Rinsing Will)” with the horns prominent on both.

Guy sings Doc Pomus’ and Dr John’s “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere” beautifully in a sparse arrangement with the horns again subtle and understated.  Guy gives us another fine solo in BB King style and BB is obviously a big influence on his playing as there is not only the original instrumental but also Joe Josea’s “Bad Case Of Love” which demonstrates BB’s way with a shuffle.

With tunes from Percy Mayfield and Harold Arlen also included this generously filled CD should provide something for all fans of that place where swinging jazz and blues intersect.

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