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Charlie Apicella & Iron City: The Business

Greg Simmons By

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Charlie Apicella and Iron City have funk, groove, and insistent swing on The Business. Nominally a guitar/organ/drums trio, this date adds the tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley and conguero Mayra Casales, to fill out the sound. Apicella exhibits a sturdy competence on guitar, with an emphasis on getting all the basics right—never resorting to flame-throwing arpeggios, and with a great sound.

This record owes a lot to some of the great proto-funk and soul bands of the 1960s. In places, the roots of Booker T & the MG's show through loud and clear. The opening title track uses the deep pedals of the organ, played by Dave Matlock, to lay down a steady groove with the congas and Alan Korzin's kit. Riley and Apicella double up for the melody before splitting up to solo. Both play with and through the groove, rather than exploding over it.

The band touches on a lot of rhythms, with "64 Cadillac" featuring a solid Latin beat and "Cantaloupe Woman" tossing a boogaloo into the mix, but the instrumentation, particularly the backing drone of the organ, ensures that everything hangs together. In places it seems as much indebted to rock 'n' roll as to jazz, with Korzin pumping out solid grooves—playing with the same economy as Apicella, sticking with keeping time, but almost never throwing in so much as an accent roll.

It's that restraint—the precedence of the group over the individuals—that makes The Business a good record. This is simple, toe-tapping, head-nodding music—mostly blues and R&B-based. It's not flashy or especially innovative, but it is fun, and that seems more to the point.

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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