“I Am Who I Am and It Is What It Is”
by Anthony Moser
This is a great album. Recorded by Pete Galanis at 3011 Studios in Chicago, I Am Who I Am And It Is What It Is is two full discs of clean, tight recordings, with a relaxed, live energy. Basically it’s like having the Guy King Organ Trio in your living room. They move fluidly and comfortably through diverse material: Charlie Parker, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy McGriff. One of my favorites is the instrumental Yardbird Suite, with terrific playing from everyone. I’m trying to think about how to break this down, describe each person in the band’s contribution: Mike Schlick’s steady, nuanced drumming; Ben Paterson’s mellow, liquid organ playing; and of course the clear tone of Guy King’s guitar, tracing sophisticated lines and moving rapidly through complicated chord voicings.
Mostly what strikes me is how good they all sound together. You can tell these guys are comfortable collaborating and it contributes to the sense of live performance. It also lets them move through a wide range of songs without sounding scattered. Guy King in particular shines. He showcases his range as a vocalist on tunes like Please Send Me Someone To Love, and his guitar playing is a devastating mix of good phrasing, classy lines, and dirty blues. The album opens with his original tune, the title track. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to classify Guy King (is he a jazz guy who plays blues? A blues guy who plays jazz?) consider I Am Who I Am And It Is What It Is to be his answer.