Matt Marshak – New York

June 25, 2016

Ah, Mr. Guitar Man, can you play me some good ol’ soul-shakin’ funky blues? The very soulful and funky guitarist Matt Marshak can answer that with a resounding “yes,” especially considering his latest release titled New York. On it, Marshak knocks out jazz, R&B, funk, and blues in one fell swoop. Once you’ve settled back to take in this one, the groove will lock you in. If you’ve got a pulse, I guarantee it.

Marshak has always appealed to me with his most expressive way of handling his ax. Precision, quality sound, fluid & crystal clear riffs, and catchy hooks are all ingredients in his masterful recipe, no doubt.

After capturing me with the first two bluesy, biting tracks “North Carolina” and “Real Music,” the guitarist embarks on a musical journey that seems to know no boundaries. Burnin’ through with a mid-tempo picture called “The After Party” that is reminiscent of Benson and so many others who dig that sassy talkin’ hook-rich style but clearly claimed as his own here by Marshak, the party has actually just begun.

With the help of Benjie Porecki on the Hammond organ (who’s totally laying it down throughout the album, by the way), a rather slick and somewhat harrowing track, “On My Way,” quickly slipped its way into my heart as one of my favs here. It has a calling quality, and Marshak’s intense playing further accentuates that. A kickin’ rhythm section completes the cycle with full-bodied class.

One of the finest points about this cool album is that Marshak states that it was recorded in the “old-fashioned way,” without any loops, drum machines, or pre-recorded sounds – just four live human beings and a sound engineer in a studio at the same time, grinding it out with style. My kind of setting! Love it! Big kudos to the guitarist for taking it back to basics, the root of it all.

There are simply too many fine tracks on this album to pick any one favorite, although, along with “On My Way,” the melodic and blues- funky “Change in the Air” and the seriously 70s/80s-funky “Greasy Groove” would have to be among them.

Also, one of those favs would have to be the great finale “Blues for BB (King of the Blues).” One stirring tribute indeed. Simply put, Marshak hits this one out of the park. A must-hear. – Ronald Jackson