# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Uncle Frank - Smiles for Miles

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 7 / 4 / 2014

Uncle Frank - Smiles for Miles
Label: Mita Records
Format: CD


Extraordinarily diverse debut album, which embraces soul, pop, jazz, funk, old-school hip hop and easy listening, from Uncle Frank, the new band of Huey and the New Yorkers’ Frank Benbini and Naim Cortazzi

Last year I did an interview with Huey and the New Yorkers for Pennyblackmusic at the Nottingham Rescue Rooms. During that interview I learned that two members of the group were collaborating together under the band name of Uncle Frank and were recording an album. I have been excited about this ever since. Frank Benbini and Naim Cortazzi have created an extraordinarily diverse album. If you recognise his name, it is because Benbini was also the drummer and part mastermind behind the legendary Fun Loving Criminals. They have enlisted a whole army of class musicians, and spawned a beast of gargantuan proportions whilst keeping it so laid back I had trouble climbing off the sofa after the first listen. Darryl “Junior” Benbini (drums), Ben “The Lips” Searle (trumpet), Ashley Trigg (bass), Jimmy Lyndsey (keyboards, trombone) and Nick Rundle (sax) are all capable accomplices in an eleven track journey through sonic bliss that takes in more genres and styles than you could shake an oboe at. Appearances from John Barrow (saxophone), Gaz Birtles (saxophone) and also Steve Nutter (tuba, harmonica) just add to the vocal and instrumental meanderings of the Leicester based troop. ‘Smiles for Miles' is the culmination of the years Benbini and Cortazzi’s have spent playing and absorbing music, writing and honing their craft and cultivating their sound, and was inspired by Benbini’s family life in his Italian community in New York. The pair’s love of music has led them to create an album that is an eclectic mix of soul, pop, jazz, funk, old-school hip hop and easy listening. Taking three-months to record ‘Smiles for Miles’ in their home studio, Benbini and Cortazzi have arranged, played the majority of instruments themselves and engineered the whole product whilst adding an array of players, ranging from classical harpists to full brass sections. Benbini met Grammy Award-winning mixer and producer Tim Latham (Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, the Rolling Stones and Erykah Badu) during a Lou Reed session at Quad Studios in New York, and the album was mixed and finished just as they secured a record deal. The whole album is reminiscent of early Bran Van in its diversity, and is full of classic, quirky, lovestruck songs, which are highlighted by the baritone tones of Frank on some songs, especially the second track 'Big Brother' which tells of the trials and tribulations of being the oldest of the bunch. Frank’s baritone is mixed up here in a tell-tale Fun Lovin’ beat dot and dabbed with a portion of Street-ish hip hop. 'Gravy Baby' is just a slow groove that'll make you smile and smell Bisto, while the infectious whistle of 'Anytime' will be with you for the next three weeks at least. There's also some retro 70’s vibes thrown in there too for good measure such as on the funky 'Step into My Room' It is the simplicity of the grooves throughout that will leave you craving to give it another airing. And another. And another.......and everything is kept in the family as Franks' younger brother Darryl ‘Junior’ Benbini lends his considerable talents on drums and as DJ maestro Boy Kid Cloud. It is proving impossible to keep this out of my CD player at the moment. A fantastic album.

Track Listing:-
1 Shake N Bake
2 Big Brother
3 Gravy Baby
4 Anytime
5 Desperate Town
6 Somethin Somethin
7 Chocolates
8 Bonzo
9 Step Into My Room
10 Centro Vasco
11 U.N.C.L.E F.R.A.N.K
12 Dance Instructor
13 Glory Me
14 Han Solo
15 Mr Bushwick
16 Step Into My Room (BKC Remix)
17 Dance Instructor (Boy Kid Cloud and

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