"Gotcha Rhythm Right Here"
STP Records www.JohnTropea.com
If you are not already familiar with his name, you’ve probably heard John Tropea’s guitar on famous recordings by Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Paul Simon, Laura Nyro, Van Morrison, Phoebe Snow, Lyle Lovett, James Brown, David Ruffin, Chaka Kahn, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Ashford and Simpson, Sister Sledge, Harry Chapin, and even Alice Cooper. Tropea’s jazz affiliations include: Tom Scott, Steve Gadd and Will Lee (who both appear on this album,) Ron Carter, Chuck Mangione, Spyro Gyra, Patti Austin, Esther Phillips, Jon Lucien, Billy Cobham, Hubert Laws, Blue Mitchell, and from the Blues world Bo Diddley, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, and Bonnie Raitt. Tropea also plays guitar alongside Steve Cropper with the Blues Brothers and continues to tour the globe with this world-class band.
I first heard Tropea on Eumir Deodato’s first two landmark and early seventies CTI releases; “Prelude” with their smash “Also Sprach Zarathustra” otherwise known as the theme to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the following “Deodato 2.” Both received mega airplay and John Tropea was at the center of it all with his dynamic guitar work. I’ve been hooked on Tropea ever since.
Roll forward to 2014, and as usual Tropea finds himself surrounded by top-shelf musicians like: Chris Palmaro, Steve Gadd, Keith Carlock, Shawn Pelton, Cliff Almond, Lou Marini, Leon Pendarvis, Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Neil Jason, Will Lee, Zev Katz, Dave Mann, Clint de Ganon, Lee Finkelstein, Larry Farrell, Tommy McDonnell and more on his latest solo album “Gotcha Rhythm Right Here.” Part 1 of the opening title track is a duo of Tropea with longtime keyboard player Chris Palmaro who also doubles on drums, Tropea and Palmaro trade leads at hyper speeds on this short but hot kickoff. “Black Eyed G’s” is the only song not authored or co-authored by Tropea, it’s by pianist Leon Pendarvis who also arranged and plays on this funky soul outing that also features stellar horn charts with “Blue” Lou Marini, Dave Mann, Larry Farrell, and Roger Rosenberg. “7th Avenue South” seemingly pays homage to the once famous West Village jazz club of the same name showcasing snappy horn segments and adds the legendary Lew Soloff to these rhythmic and soulful proceedings. The stunning “Always In My Heart” changes the pace, a heartwarming ballad with the (also legendary) Will Lee on bass, note Tropea’s intimations that are reminiscent of Pat Metheny guitar phrases. The scratchy vinyl noises intro “Side By Two” shifts into a sophisticated bluesy mode especially with the addition of the second guitarist Hanan Rubenstein who’s just thirty-three and tours with Alicia Keys, nonetheless both guitarists join in unison than start trading solos, the horns charts are sparse yet well utilized as this piece crackles into a head-turning romp. Tropea revisits his “NYC Direct” updated to 2014, it exudes a late-night vibe along with a hypnotic trumpet solo from (the also legendary) Randy Brecker. Speaking of legendary (again) drummer Steve Gadd jumps in on “Hip to the Hips” takes time to smolder than scorches and burns! Part 2 of the title track adds background vocalist James “D-Train” Williams, Tropea’s guitar work is right-on as are Palmaro’s keys and drumming, the horns thicken the roux as Tropea and Palmaro soar over the tireless and rhythmic workout that oozes fun. Concluding this fine recording is the bonus track “Boulevard Strut” doses the album with Jamaican like beats, Will Lee’s back on bass with the Harris Brother’s horns and Lou Marini, the vocalist Rallybop does his Reggae-rap thing that works well into a righteous and soul-like strut.
Get all your tight rhythms right now on this latest (and welcome) addition to John Tropea’s already solid body of solo work with “Gotcha Rhythm Right Here.” For further proof; enjoy other funky, soulful, and jazzy excursions at: www.JohnTropea.com
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm: http://WFDU.fm Now celebrating 15 + years on the air in the NYC area Music Editor: www.yonkerstribune.com, www.makingascene.org & wfdu.fm/Whats-Happening/Bob's Music Reviews/bobs music reviews/