Big Apple Blues

Manhattan Alley


Recorded at Sear Sound in Manhattan, this NY crew, this follow-up album to Energy Harrison is drummer, Zach Zunis plays guitar, Jim Alfredson mans the keys and Anthony Kane is on harp. Some guests appear hear and there. The act records in one room, for that intimate/organic feel.

You Gotta Start Somewhere has a great choppy funk rhythm, additional horns. As with the other inclusions, it’s an instrumental. I expected Joe Tex to walk in and start singing! The meaty Strat playing sounds like Jimmie Vaughan Vaughan. The electric piano has definite echoes of the late great Donny Hathaway. The track fades away.

Happy is guitar-led, with warm Hammond chording and sounds like an Albert King set-starter. The spirit of Booker T lives in this rendition, so very Memphis albeit this is New York music. On to Take Two with its horn stabs and organ trilling, again pretty Albert King, all helped along by crisp percussion. It’s like the club music in a 60s thriller, where the tec is showing everyone a picture of a girl! The guitar break is suitably spikey, here.

Sow takes it steady with Fogerty amp tremelo on the guitar and a tinge of King Curtis on the sax. A nice melody with a definite swampy vibe at play. Deep Talkin’ sounds like a piece of film music from a crime caper, where someone is trying to lose a pursuer in a crowded market scenario. Very cool and neatly played to a pattering beat. Next up is Hudson Breeze a confident outing all round and summer-on-the-pathway ambience held together well by the bassist and drummer. The horn slivers are easy on the ear. Steamroller is not the James Taylor tune, but a wah guitar funk scenario, the drums busy and no possibility of keeping your feet still, as a listener.

Subway Rumble has a sombre keys intro and hints at latterday Mose Allison as it lurches along. Again, this does sound made for a movie soundtrack. The Hammond break is nimble and meaty, a superior player is this cat Jim. Love As I Know It is almost soft gospel as it stars, a wonderful feel and my favourite in this programme. The guitar top line is soulful and subtle, not miles from the late Eric Gale in style and execution. Last cut is Rock On is frantic Leslie’d guitar and a Stax push from all.

Exceptional players, working well as a unit. Sure makes me want to sing with them!

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks to Frank R)

Big Apple Blues new album 'Manhattan Alley' is out now.

For more information visit the band's official website here: