Blown Gasket Orchestra
It’s hard not to get caught up in the blast this septet is having on each of the dozen tracks of Rock City. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Hughes, who’s written these songs, has assembled an expert outfit of musicians who have helped him make successful forays into rock, funk, R&B, soul, breakbeats, acid jazz and jazz (bebop and swing). Each guy is an expert, so there are no rough seams, no stumbles.
Shouldering a big part of the burden is the rhythm section of Dean Gallant (bass) and Claude Samson (drums). Noel Taussig adds percussion and the party-starting vocals. The brass kicks ass throughout this album. Rob MacIntosh (tenor sax) and Michael Murdock (baritone sax), along with Hughes on occasional trumpet, give a lot of oomph but often work best in counterpoint with Jonathan Andrews’s guitar---as on the reggae-themed instrumental track, “The Beet Treatment.” Andrews provides moody melodies on slide guitar for that song and the one before, “Fifteen Minutes,” and really makes those songs, while reminding you how cool and underappreciated good soul guitar playing is.
Outside those tracks, “Bobby Nice” and “Walkin’ Around” showcase Hughes’ solid but sweet voice, closing out the album on a high note. There’s a good dose of weirdness and humour here, too. Check them out at Foggy Goggle, December 19.