True to their name, the Motor City Horns are four musicians who hail from Detroit, MI -- Mark Byerly on trumpet and flügelhorn, Bob Jensen on trumpet, Keith Kaminski on saxophones, and John Rutherford on trombone and tuba. The Motor City Horns are talented journeymen who've collaborated with many of the most notable names on the Michigan music scene, from heartland rock hero Bob Seger to techno pioneer Carl Craig, and on the album Local Boys, they offer up a healthy dose of love and respect for their fellow artists from the Mitten State. Each track on Local Boys finds them collaborating with a different lead vocalist (except for three instrumentals), and 44 different musicians (all from Michigan, most from Detroit) contributed to these sessions, which run the gamut from churning funk, smooth grooving soul, and rough-and-ready blues, to polished but streetwise hip-hop and swaggering rock & roll, along with several distinct flavors of jazz. In many respects, Local Boys sounds more like a compilation than an album anchored by a single group, and while the horn section is the sole common element on these 15 tracks, the Motor City Horns understand the traditional role of horns is that of support, and while they carry the melodies on these tunes (and do so with skill and style), they're confident enough to let the vocalists take center stage, and they give enough spots to the guest soloists to make this one of the most democratic albums of recent memory. And sharing so much of the show with their guests was clearly no act of creative charity -- Thornetta Davis' powerhouse vocals on "Kissing My Love," the internationalist flavor of the group Bump on "Appollonia," the joyous trad jazz stylings of the Hot Club of Detroit on "The Moochie," and Alberta Adams' perfectly aged performance on "Remember Me" all richly earn their star billing. At a time when "the Tragedy of Detroit" is a popular story in the national media, Local Boys shows that the musical community that has been such a big part of this great city is still as strong and powerful as ever, and the Motor City Horns deserve the key to the city for showing just how many gifted artists are still living, working, and thriving there.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming