I make it no secret that I hardly dare to start in on my George Benson and Gabor Szabo LPs because, the moment I do, I have to listen to them all, then hit on Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Ponder, Charlie Byrd, and a bunch of the other stripped-down guitar players because their sound is just too damn enticing and I get caught in a time warp. That provokes Jimmy Page and Ricthie Blackmore to wax irritable, knock down my front door, and demand why I'm neglecting Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple slabs. They then catch wind of the Grant Green disc playing in the background, utter a unified 'Whoa!', sit down, and it's months before we emerge from reverie. I gotta cut that out, it's bad for the music and crit biz, but then Zoho issues this latest Charlie Apicella CD and, sigh!, it's back to the Bliss Room.
Part of the explanation for the ridiculously young guitar player's success—how can a cat with so few years get it down so pat?—lays in his tutorship under private lessons with Yusef Lateef, who really cemented in the compositional groundwork for Apicella's growing labors. Then came training under Dave Stryker (here) while drummer Alan Korzin's geological excavations upon Idris Muhammed's backlog likewise slid the funk in, sometimes with steel and grit, on other occasions employing sublime restraint. Organist Dan Kostelnik makes up the third slot in the foundation Iron City, and his sound is purely from classic earlier times, waves of that moody electronic keyboard undulating out from the speakers as though it were still the 50s and early 60s…and, sigh!, oftimes I wish it still were.
Half of Big Boss resides in Charlie's own compositions, then two by the aforementioned god (Green), a Willie Dixon classic (Spoonful) and a far more upbeat take than one is accustomed to, zesty and swingin'. The remaining track is the Holland-Dozier-Holland chartbuster I Hear a Symphony. Sessioneers Freddie Hendrix (trumpet) and Stephen Riley (tenor sax) are pretty much omnipresent, providing a lot of the top end while Amy Bateman tips in a violin on the sweeping ballad Amalfi, a high sweet airy sound much reminiscent of Hisako Yamashta's wont with nods to Jean Luc Ponty. Mayra Casales adds congas here and there for more South of the border flavor, and, no matter who drops in and out of the affair, every single cut sparkles, entices, seduces, and drags us away from the slave woes of our capitalist work wont back into an anarchistic realm of disciplined hedonism, sooooooo……go back to the 9 to 5 on Monday, if'n ya want, but me? I'm planting my keister right back down again, grabbing another beer, and clicking the replay button on the CD player. Don't mind me, I'll wave as you report to the boss. Send him my, um, 'love'.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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