Christian de Mesones Expands the Universe with “They Call Me Big New York”
-Debbie Burke, Jazz Author
“They Call Me Big New York” is the newest CD by Brooklyn-born guitarist Christian DeMesones (featured earlier here). If you want to know why he’s called that, it’s because of his big personality and heart, and an approach to music that is 110% all in.
The album (just released on 2/20/20 and with over a quarter of a million streams on Spotify) draws the excitement up and over the top. Real smooth is the dance vibe of “Latin Jive Redux” which briefly respects the phrasing of “Oye Como Va.” “Throb” pulses out dynamic chopped-up rhythms whose bridges feature horn and sax solos preaching truth with strong lines. “Dekalb and Flatbush” serves up a narration by DeMesones recalling the days of the brick-and-mortar record stores and walk-in radio stations of the 1970s (“But I’ll tell you what, I’ll never forget the music back then!” he shouts). The song gives way to hearty female vocals and that inimitable fat sax sound which defines the flavor of funk. Breathy pan flutes flutter and yield to a quick blues turn on the organ which, he tells us, is the “Shape of Water,” and get ready for a quick dive, headfirst, into the densely packed “Year of the Dragon.”
“All of us need help with our dreams. Some still haven’t figured out which direction they want to go. This is my story. I didn’t create the musical offerings alone but I did weather every obstacle put in my path. From my perspective…music heals. This project healed me. My inspiration for They called Me Big New York comes from my love of life. NEVER GIVE UP!”
-Debbie Burke, Jazz Author
Christian de Mesones – They Call Me Big New York
by Ronald Jackson
Bassist Christian “Big NY” de Mesones is a towering presence in stature, and one listen to his new project here titled They call Me Big New York will convince you that his music matches his physical stature.
A very accomplished musician who once fronted the now-defunct Groove Skool Band --a band, I might add, that had some mighty components that I would have bet my bottom dollar would lead to a long career in this biz. While that band didn’t prevail, the big man on bass has plowed ahead relentlessly, performing in the local DC/MD/VA areas for years, providing some of most sophisticated, funky, soulful, and jazzy sounds that this area could ever hope to experience.
He is joined here by some longtime friends and cohorts -- keyboardist Elliot Levine, guitarists Mike Gamble and Drew Davidsen, trumpeter Rob Zinn, saxmen Rob Maletick and Eddie Baccus Jr., drummer Nick Costa, and percussionist Curtis McCain, just to name a few.
Here on They Call Me New York, de Mesones provides us with his live performance at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, some refreshing, melodic new material, and some beloved older material for which he is known.
I have my personal faves here – like “Sweetnight” featuring the charming and sweet vocals of Debora Galan, the Sly Stone-like “Good Old Days,” the laid-back “Spirit,” the Latinesque “Hispanica,” again featuring the sexy vocals of Galan (offering those vocals in the rich and exotic Spanish tongue), the very funky, mid-tempo “Throb!,” and one of my all-time funk-heavy Groove Skool Band favorites “Dekalb and Flatbush.”
de Mesones has been providing quality music forever. In keeping with the Groove Skool grooves of years ago, this album is most deserving of a huge national audience, and has all the signs of being that catalyst. Grab a listen.
First Listen: Christian de Mesones gets us pulsing on "Throb"
September 11, 2019
Christian de Mesones is new to us, but not to making great music. The native New Yorker and DC transplant made his first big splash at the 2006 Capital Jazz Fest with his band Groove Skool, and he has been funking it up for audiences regularly ever since.
Christian will be releasing his new album They Call Me Big New York in January, but in the meantime he is getting play around the world for his upbeat single, “Throb.” Opening with a touch of rock, it quickly moves through some eclectic jazz sounds before settling into a horn-filled funky number that is intoxicating.
We’re enjoying “Throb” and are looking forward to hearing the full album. Welcome to SoulTracks!
“If you’re ever in the DC/MD/VA metro area (affectionately known as the DMV) around the time this band is scheduled to appear, you do not want to miss it. Local talent bringing originality, showmanship, and clear musicianship. In a class all its own.”
Big NY & The Smooth Jazz Allstarz
The Carlyle Club
Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, 7:30 pm
The classy Carlyle Club in Alexandria, VA was the proud host of one of the best shows I’ve seen all year as Christian “Big NY” De Mesones and his Smooth Jazz Allstarz band presented a high-caliber, well-produced, and most entertaining concert that left a packed audience beaming and in good spirits (and, in such a time of concern, stress, and preoccupation with the nation’s political state of affairs, such a pleasant distraction was a huge plus).
The well-oiled band of most competent musicians included longtime De Mesones comrade guitarist Mike Gamble, saxman Rob Maletick, guest trumpeter and Grammy nominee Rob Zinn (who has a wonderful new release on the national scene – reviewed on this site –), vocalist Nia Simmons, the always exciting keyboardist extraordinaire Elliot Levine (who always seems to be having his own private party as he lays out his electrifying riffs), fired up drummer Chris “Biscuit” Bynum, flashy percussionist Curtis McCain, and the colorful timbales of Sergio Rosales. A grade A lineup to be sure.
Along with super guitar, bass, and keys chops, the horn arrangements were of top-tier excellence and brilliance, adding so much color to the set.
Among the most moving, shaking, and electric tunes were the red-hot opening tune “Cinco Cinco Seis,” “Parkside Shuffle,” “The Bullfighter,” a new Latin-tinged track called “Hispanica,” De Mesones’ signature “Latin Jive Redux,” and what turned out to be my favorites of the evening, another new track called “Gone Under” and his R&B/bluesy Sly Stone-like “Good Ol’ Days.” The band finished off the night with De Mesones’ former Groove Skool Band classic “Dekalb & Flatbush.” An apropos way to wrap it all up.
I know Big NY and have experienced his sets on numerous occasions. While he has always been a perfectionist and probably his own worst critic, this concert (as I told him) was most likely his band’s best performance to date, outpacing some really solid past performances. I found the sound system to be better balanced, the set list well-chosen (this one was full of new originals yet to be released).
As an entertainer, the larger-than-life bassist is quite personable and engaging during his live performances (this time, even more than usual, it seemed).
Each individual member of this band also had a moment to put on a muscular display of skill, and not one disappointed. In a word, class.
If you’re ever in the DC/MD/VA metro area (affectionately known as the DMV) around the time this band is scheduled to appear, you do not want to miss it. Local talent bringing originality, showmanship, and clear musicianship. In a class all its own. – Ronald Jackson