The first minute of this album begs you to dance a little two-step with your honey and shout "Aw, shake it, now!" This project, a good-time oldies blues/soul/jazz package is solidly arranged and played. The instruments are handled with really smooth indulgence. The vocals are a bit unimpressive, but the arrangements are so crisp that you don’t dwell on this shortcoming.
An Austin, Texas, source quotes the band as saying that "This band is about having fun. We start with what audiences know and then take them someplace new, so when they go home they feel like they have really been somewhere." Well, that’s a pretty fair self-assessment. The band clearly knows how to strike a familiar chord (literally) with folks familiar with the blues, as well as R&B. Whether the new stuff is so new as to have to place another label on it or take you to someplace else is something you, the listener, will have to decide. I felt quite at home in the same place as when I "arrived"--and the band didn’t take me, nor have to take me, someplace new. There’s plenty of N’Orleans-style, Fats Domino-style, B.B. King-style blues & jazz to go around, and it certainly felt good! A "new" place just wasn’t necessary.
Make no mistake, founder Paul Klemperer has fresh material that adds a stylishly newer slant to the entire album. There’s the subtle Latin flavor that he so proudly displays on cuts like "Silver Bird" (the vocals on this one are, by the way, decidedly good). That is followed by a cover of the Latin-tinged "The Night is Young and You Are So Beautiful." Ahhh, this piece has always been so romantic and worthy of a sexy dance rendezvous with a mami chula, and Klemperer & Co. do it sweet justice.Manteca-Licious takes Paul Klemperer’s 35 years of playing experience and neatly and compactly deposits it all right here. With a solid stock of musicians that comprise Manteca Beat, a nicely diverse mix of compositions and arrangements, and a clear sense of what audiences like, Klemperer proves that he remains at the top of his game.