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Mike McKoy: Ludwig Manhattan’s Germaican Blues

Marta Ramon By

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This is not a conventional jazz album because this is not just a jazz album. Ludwig Manhattan's Germaican Blues melds together the blues feeling with literature and a strong social philosophical idea: "Could you bloom, wherever you'd been planted?" Apparently, this audio-book experiment has been inspired by Mary Flannery O'Connor's writing The Life You Save May Be Your Own (Harcourt, 1955), a motivating premise that has guided his author to start a personal intimate trip to find himself through music.

The attractive primal impression of this album has managed to gather together six great jazz musicians led by guitarist and vocalist Mike McKoy. The band, completed by Toni Belenguer (the best jazz trombonist in Spain), bassist Matt Baker, pianist Vicent Colonques and harmonica player Ignacio Aguilar (also playing didgeridoo), weave the perfect base for the story to move on in intensity and significance. In this format, without drums, the bass and acoustic guitar produce a rhythm like in the small swing bands of the '30s. The changing rhythms provided by the catchy and intelligent bass sound become the appropriate hanger for the charismatic trombone improvisations which suit a balanced connection with Mike McKoy's baritone voice. The keyboard role performs like tickling lights which give finess to the ironic lyrics and the hard background of the story, accented by the enigmatic didgeridoo, which shows up sporadically.

The album's index is formed by sixteen tracks which alternate a literary narration, working as prelude-with-blues tunes. These tunes offer the purest blues feeling through meaningful lyrics related to the story and the original arrangements. This work accomplishes a "less is more" principle, as the quality of the content comes from its simplicity and direct, raw and moralizing message. Ultimately, Ludwig Manhattan's Germaican Blues is a striking entertainment product in which jazz and blues wouldn't be completed without the literature and underlying philosophical concept that push them forward.

Track Listing: Prelude; Germaican Blues; Prelude; The World is a Loveless Toilet; Prelude; Invisibility; Prelude; In the Palace of Sans Souci; Prelude; See You Next Tuesday; Prelude; Palimpsest; Prelude; Sincerity; Prelude; Good Company.

Personnel: Mike McKoy: narration, vocals, acoustic and electric guitars; Toni Belenguer: trombone; Matt Baker: double bass; Vicent Colonques: keyboards; Ignacio Aguilar: harmonica, didgeridoo.

Title: Ludwig Manhattan’s Germaican Blues | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Sedajazz Records

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