Review: Carmen Grillo – A Different World

Posted on: Monday, Jul 28, 2014


Carmen Grillo – A Different World

(Big Surprise Music)

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Carmen grew up in Santa Cruz, California, where before moving on to Los Angeles to further his artistic vision he spent a good number years of his youth gaining vital experience of performing live in front of audiences with local bands such as; Feel Machine and White Eyes.

Although being already proficient on the drums and saxophone, the skills of which he had learnt at an early age, his choice of instrument changed dramatically after his father took him to a Ventures concert in his youth.

He decided to move to Los Angeles in the late 70s and in very little time he became one of the most sought after session musicians in the area. From 1980, through to 1986 he recorded and toured with Rita Coolidge and two years later he joined the band Tower of Power, over the nine years he was with them he became an integral part of this legendary outfit. In 1997 he left the band to pursue a solo career and open his own recording studios; from which later that year came his debut album “Both Sides of The Coin”.

In the intervening years Carmen has spent most of his time in the producers chair and recorded a good number of other artists; he is currently a member of the Sons of Champlin who were a great musical influence in the Bay Area of San Francisco in the 60s and 70s and still have a firm following today.

Now, after years of helping others Carmen has decided to display his skills and musical passions for all to hear with this new album of twelve numbers which consists of four instrumentals that take no prisoners but, it is his version of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s “ A Real Mother for Ya”, which will have garnered most interest, for, on this he spares no one, a searing combination of colossal surging horns trampling their way out of the speakers merely introduce his richly funked and ferociously leering and rapacious guitar work that simply takes your breath away.

“I Got The Sauce”, is a slightly less rasping instrumental that happily enters the world of  strutting jazz funk, with flowing and engaging guitar work that evokes pleasant memories of Jeff Beck and George Benson. “Tryin’ To Make It Happen”, is very reminiscent of the gorgeous breezing, blue eyed soul harmonies of Hall & Oates, with equally enjoyable enticing horn and organ hooks.

There are times when you are not quite sure if it is brass you are hearing or Carmen’s unique string bending skills, this is very much the case on “Prototype”, a grooving low slung meandering  jazz infused guitar funkster that takes you to another level. On “Nature of The Beast”, a New Orleans marching groove is introduced with an insistent growling harmonica and badgering organ, the bursting guitar and funk ridden horns swirl aggressively around as if it were a real hurricane.

After the dizzy, swirling guitars and punching horns the album ends on a calming and sensitive note with a soft focus, bubbling organ and mellow acoustic guitar, that creates a sensitive, loving and endearing ballad entitled “You’re The One”.

Well worth a listen!


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