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Charlie Apicella & Iron City: The Business

Edward Blanco By

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Guitarist Charlie Apicella & Iron City get down to the gritty business of delivering variations of funk and soul jazz on The Business, a well-crafted, vibrant grind of guitar-organ sounds supported by percussion and saxophone voices in an exciting quintet format. Though Apicella's playing style has been compared to that of Wes Montgomery, he also has an affinity for the music of Grant Green, featuring one of the late guitarist's compositions on The Business. Produced by veteran jazz guitarist Dave Stryker—a mentor, of sorts, for Apicella—the album contains an interesting blend of creative originals and cover tunes from the likes of Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine and Ben Dixon Quintet.

Strong performances from drummer Alan Korzin and organist Dave Mattock drive the funk-styled title piece along firmly, conveying the message that this album is now "open for business." "64 Cadillac" takes on a percussive flair, with Mayra Casales pounding the congas, accompanied by tenor saxophoist Stephen Riley and Apicella's light riffs. Grant Green's "Donny Brook" and Apicella's "Ironcity"—apparently misspelled on the back cover as "Ironicity"—flow briskly, embracing an assertive bop-ish texture.

Apicella enters center stage with a charming performance on the only soft ballad of the disc, evoking memories of Elvis Presley with the lovely "Can't Help Falling In Love." The group takes a soulful approach on "Cantaloupe Woman," a tune from Blue Note house drummer Ben Dixon Quintet, while turning in another hard-driving performance on the Stitt standard, "Blue String." The funk returns on Mattock's "The Shaw Shuffle," as the band borrows from the Turrentine songbook to close the business of this session in percussive, blistering fashion with a lengthy rendition of "Stanley's Time."

On its impressive debut, Sparks (CMJ Jazz, 2010), Charlie Apicella & Iron City drew on music from Lonnie Smith and Lou Donaldson, visiting material from the organ trios of earlier times. The group remains true to this foundation with The Business , while venturing into modern territory and displaying a flair for the funkier side of jazz.

Track Listing: The Business; 64 Cadillac; Donny Brook; Ironicity; Can't Help Falling In Love; Cantaloupe Woman; Blue String; The Shaw Shuffle; Stanley's Time.

Personnel: Charlie Apicella: guitar; Dave Matlock: organ; Alan Korzin: drums; Stephen Riley: tenor saxophone; Mayra Casales: congas, percussion.

Title: The Business | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Carlo Music

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