Michael J. Thomas – City Beat

Michael J. Thomas
City Beat
Harbor Breeze – 2009

City Beat is an instrumental R&B-pop collection that chronicles Thomas’ Joyful discovery, eager exploration and adventurous wanderings in sprawling metropolises such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Bangkok, Thailand.

 Sophisticatedly cool and cosmopolitan, “Midtown Manhattan” opens the album on which Thomas wields a tenor, alto and soprano sax. A gorgeous melody laid over the pitter-patter of a gentle brushed drum beat, “Wedding Song (Forever Always)” poignantly pledges eternal love. Thomas is backed on the record by a taut rhythm section comprised of bassist Eric Lampley and drummer Jonathan Davis who laid down the funk on “30-A Degrees.”

A huge Michael Jackson fan, Thomas decided to cover the gloved one’s most famous song, “Billie Jean” a year ago. Aside from adding a haunting ambient intro, the track is faithful to the original version. Thomas’ lustful soprano sax seduces on the sensual “Pretty Skin.” On “Mind Your Step,” Wallace’s electric guitar riffs combine with the rhythm section to create a deep-pocketed groove that is ignited further by the gritty urban sound of turntable pyrotechnics.

Thomas indulges his newfound love for wine on “Amante Del Vino.” Keyboardist Diki Ross helps welcome Thomas “Back Home,” a warm and cozy ballad. Closing with “Cali Trippin’,” Wallace’s wailing electric guitar and Paul Scurto’s classy trumpet solos spark the journey piloted by Thomas’ tenor.

“After growing up in a small town in Kentucky, I’ve fallen in love with visiting some of the world’s largest cities, which is what inspired City Beat. My hope is that the music will travel the world-over enabling me to travel the world performing my songs,” said Thomas. “As an artist, I think what makes me unique is my songwriting. Although the sax is the lead instrument on the tracks, it’s more about the songs and melodies as opposed to prolonged solos. Shannon (Wallace) and I kept the production organic in the studio, which resulted in a true live sound.”