instrumental R&B / blues band known as Big Apple Blues keeps
the feel good energy flying high with their 2018 album called Manhattan
Alley. By day, a well respected doctor based in the
NY/NJ area, Admir Hadzic doubles both as bass player and co-producer
of the five piece Big Apple Blues, which also features a great lineup
of musicians including Zach Zunis (electric guitars), Barry
Harrison (drums), Jim Alfredson (keys) and Anthony Kane
(harmonica). Back in 2015, mwe3.com reviewed the band's CD Energy,
and the 2018 CD release of Manhattan Alley keeps their
high-flying, soul-funk, instrumental sound moving right along. The
soulful Big Apple Blues approach to funky, groove-based instrumental
music should find a home among a diverse group of music fans, including
but not limited to fans of organ-based soul / funk / jazz but Manhattan
Alley is clearly not a jazz album, per se. Speaking to mwe3.com
about the band's unique approach to the blues and instrumental rock,
and a comparison to the best 1960s instrumental R&B groups on
the fabled Stax label, keyboardist Jim Alfredson explains, "I
consider Big Apple Blues akin to Booker T. & the MGs for
sure. All of us have worked as sidemen backing up singers across genres
like jazz, blues, R&B, etc. just like the MGs and the Bar-kays
did back in the '60s. Once you remove the singer from the equation,
the result is something different, something special. We play a lot
of numbers with vocals in our live shows, but on our albums the instruments
themselves are the vocalists. That makes us distinctly different from
many other blues bands." Perhaps
the coolest thing about Big Apple Blues is the rock-solid chemistry
between the band members who seem to revel in their unique approach
to loud, funky, guitar-centric blues. Instrumental rock music fans
with open ears will embrace the diversity of Big Apple Blues and their
feel-good NYC vibes. The city that never sleeps, New York City has
a trademark band with a sound to match, and theyre called Big
Apple Blues. www.bigappleblues.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Admir Dr. Blues Hadzic and Jim Alfredson of
Big Apple Blues
Whats the latest news on Big Apple Blues? Hows the NYC
music scene doing these days and how does Big Apple Blues fit into
the current scene? Have you performed concerts outside NYC in other
states and how about spreading the BAB sound to other countries?
Admir and Jim: The Blues music scene in New York has much changed
with only one blues club remaining open. Yes, Big Apple Blues has
performed outside NYC many times including in Las Vegas, Belgium,
France, Hong Kong, Austria
The audiences really dig the Big
Apple Blues Sound, even though we play a lot of instrumentals mixed
with traditional blues favorites. Vocals are so predominant in most
popular music that it might be strange to the average listener but
they warm up to our sound quickly!
Ill never forget performing in 2017 in Gent, Belgium at the
Missy Sippy club. We played Rock On from Manhattan
Alley and after the song ended the audience kept enthusiastically
singing the main guitar riff. It felt really great that they connected
with that piece despite no vocals.
mwe3: Is there a leader of the band? How was the album produced
as its a shared production between band members Admir Hadzic
and Jim Alfredson? Who else is key to getting that authentic instrumental
Big Apple Blues is Admirs (Dr. Blues) initiative and he is certainly
the leader but he always points out that our success is the one of
the brotherhood in music and beyond and he is always open to suggestions.
Guitarist Zach Zunis is really important to the sound of the band.
He is a blues player first and foremost and that rawness comes across
in his playing. Drummer Barry Harrison is a stalwart of the NYC blues
scene and without his groove the band would definitely not be what
it is. Besides, Baron is an awesome singer and does most of the vocals
in the band.
mwe3: Do you consider Big Apple Blues to be a blues band playing
in a kind of jazzy groove or is BAB a jazz group playing blues, or
even is there more a kindred spirit between BAB and say 1960s instrumental
soul and R&B bands such as Booker T. And The MGs? In that
regard, BAB is very unique on the current scene.
Jim Alfredson: I consider Big Apple Blues akin to Booker T.
& the MGs for sure. All of us have worked as sidemen backing
up singers across genres like jazz, blues, R&B, etc. just like
the MGs and the Bar-kays did back in the 60s. Once you remove
the singer from the equation, the result is something different, something
special. We play a lot of numbers with vocals in our live shows, but
on our albums the instruments themselves are the vocalists. That makes
us distinctly different from many other blues bands.
How would you compare the sound of the new Manhattan Alley album
with the Big Apple Blues album from 2015, called Energy? Has
the Big Apple Blues sound changed or evolved over the past few years,
how many albums has the band released and what year was the band founded?
Admir and Jim: We think that Manhattan Alley is an extension
of Energy. The two go hand-in-hand. Were not attempting
to reinvent the wheel, were just playing music that feels good
and makes you tap your feet. We also feel that as the band has gotten
a lot more comfortable with the Big Apple Blues sound, that Manhattan
Alley, while not necessarily better, it is more mature musical
statement. Big Apple Blues has issued 5 CDs all in all; Brooklyn
Blues (2010), Live at O Flahertys (2012), Energy
(2014), The Baron of the Blues 2015) and, Manhattan Alley
mwe3: What was it like making the Manhattan Alley album
as it was cut live in the studio? Was any editing or overdubs done
or added or is Manhattan Alley just the way it sounded live
on the floor when the album tracks were laid down?
Admir and Jim: Very little editing was done; we did overdub
some percussion here and there but what you hear on the album is what
happened in real-time in the studio. The band performs best when we
play as if it is a live show. There is nothing wrong with using modern
studio technology to achieve perfection, but the blue was never about
perfection. As an audio engineer myself, I find that jazz and blues
is always better when its live so we try to re-create that live
feel in the studio.
What directions are you planning to go in next as far as writing for
future albums, concerts and performances and how can you further bring
Big Apple Blues to the attention of music lovers world wide?
Jim Alfredson: JA: This past April of 2018 we did another marathon
studio session in NYC and laid down roughly 13 new songs, this time
with the percussionist in the studio with us, so no overdubbing. The
session was engineered by myself and my good friend Glenn Brown, who
is a world-class engineer based in Lansing, MI. Im really excited
about that new material not only because it sounds amazing, but because
the songs themselves have a slightly different feel.