The City Champs’ new album The Set Up is out now, and the critics are giving it an enthusiastic response (check out press quotes below). After touring the East Coast the Champs returned to Memphis to take part in several new projects. After taping a travel segment for MSN.com, they took part in the filming of a new Memphis music documentary.
Tentatively titled Memphis Revival
, this Cody Dickinson/Martin Shore-produced film showcases icons of Memphis’ music scene playing with up and coming young bands. On November 29th, The City Champs collaborated with the harp legend Charlie Musselwhite to film a segment at Electraphonic Studios. The band recorded a live show for Beale Street Caravan, they were joined by saxophonist Tom Link and trumpeter Marc Franklin for this globally syndicated radio program hosted by Sid Selvidge.
Back in New York City, the burgeoning designer Billy Reid, (Vogue Fashion Award winner) has been spinning the Champs during his runway shows, landing their name in the Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair’s blog.
“One part Booker T. & the MGs, one part Jimmy Smith, and one part Henry Mancini, Memphis three-piece the City Champs are arguably the top instrumental group in Memphis, a lean, mean soul-jazz machine that brings its own contemporary spin to a classic sound.” The Commercial Appeal
“…the City Champs put their own spin on standout tunes “Drippy,” “Ricky’s Rant,” and “Comanche.” And their toe-tapping take on RJD2’s “A Beautiful Mine” (better known as the theme from AMC’s Emmy-winning “Mad Men”) is worth the purchase price itself.” The Daily Paper
“The overall result encapsulates the Champs sound: Think The Meters and Booker T. playing a 60s film theme on a session at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio for a Blue Note or Prestige Records release.” Blurt Online
“They find their heart in the classic Memphis Stax style yet push at the borders of that genre to create memorable instrumental music that doesn’t need a vocalist or frontperson to connect. The band’s firm grip on dynamics and especially arrangements makes the music sizzle with a power and intensity lost on other instrumental acts without this intuitive talent.” AllMusic
“The album winds up on a towering, anthemic, even majestic note with another original, Comanche, a Lynchian take on a Link Wray-style groove that roars with gospel intensity until a quick, unexpected fade.” Lucid Culture
Spend 60 seconds with The City Champs here!
Memphis soul/jazz organ trio The City Champs return to Memphis’ Electraphonic Recording studio for the follow up to their acclaimed debut album, The Safecracker. The Set-Up finds the group stretching out, adding Latin jazz, psychedelia and 60’s film score influences to their established Booker T. and the MGs meets Blue Note/Prestige Records sound. The City Champs are comprised of three of Memphis’ top musicians: Guitarist Joe Restivo, organist Al Gamble and drummer George Sluppick. Their resumes include studio recordings and live dates with artists such as Rufus Thomas, Alex Chilton, JJ Grey and MOFRO, William Bell, Syl Johnson and the Memphis Horns. Augmenting the City Champs trio sound on The Set-Up is renowned Motown Funk Brother Jack Ashford on tambourine (who was featured in the award winning documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown), The Bo-Keys horn men (Marc Franklin, Jim Spake and Kirk Smothers), Latin percussionist Felix Hernandez and Bo-Keys bassist and The Set-Up’s producer, Scott Bomar, who most recently produced Cyndi Lauper’s “Memphis Blues.”
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