Monday, October 01, 2012

Lou Pallo's Thank You To Les Paul

Thank You Les (Showcase Music Productions) is a tribute that guitarist Lou Pallo of the Les Paul Trio put together to celebrate the musical legacy of Les Paul. The recording’s 21 performances have an all star group of musicians that include guitarists Keith Richards, Billy F Gibbons, Steve Miller (who also penned the package’s liner notes), Jose Feliciano, Slash, Johnny A, Bucky Pizzarelli, Arlen Roth, Nokie Edwards (The Ventures), Frank Vignola, Bob Leive, Tommy Doyle and Jon Paris, as well as singers Eddie Brigati, Jr. (The Young Rascals) Blondie Chaplin (Rolling Stones), Nicki Parrott (Les Paul Trio), Lexie Roth, Melinda Doolittle (finalist on “American Idol” season six) and members of the Les Paul Trio, who are brought together by their love of the late musical legend.

Pallo was a long-time friend of Les Paul and his long-time friend and rhythm guitarist, who many credit with helping Les Paul revitalize his career as a live performer after they first met in 1963 and soon after began performing together. It was Pallo who stood on stage with Les for his extended run of weekly performances in New York City starting in 1984, first at Fat Tuesday’s for 10 years, and later at the Iridium, where the Les Paul Trio today continues to celebrate Les Paul’s legacy today.

Space prevents the consideration of every track but there are numerous pleasures starting from the spirited opening Avalon featuring Frank Vignola with marvelous interplay between him and Pallo that is also displayed on Brazil. Steve Miller does a jazzy Mr. Day/ Tell Me What’s the Reason, with a straightforward vocal on the T-Bone Walker classic while he lays down the guitar on Nature Boy, backed by Pallo, pianist John Colianni and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi for the classic jazz ballad. Nokie Edwards’s trebly playing lends a different tinge to the Ellington-Tizol classic Caravan, and is really lovely on “Out of Nowhere,” with soft accompaniment from Pallo and bassist Jay Leonhart.

Few would expect to hear Billy F Gibbons' very deliberate playing on September Song, with a larger backing group and even more surprising is Keith Richards sharing vocals (and saying I’ll be Bing Crosby) and guitar with Pallo on It’s Been a Long, Long Time. Richards crooning is a far cry from the Rolling Stones. Arlen Roth does his best Chet Atkins impression on Mr. Sandman, and Lexie Roth joins for vocals on the wistful Mexican-tinged Vaya Con Dios. Jose Feliciano adds a bit of latin spice with his singing and guitar on “Besame Mucho.” 

Slash takes us Deep in the Blues, although with perhaps a bit too much effects and reverb and Jon Paris’ rendition of St. Louis Blues, with his slide and harmonica along with Bob Leive’s trumpet is more satisfying. Pallo and Tommy Doyle perform a lovely rendition of Memories of You, one of the most celebrated collaborations of Eubie Blake-Andy Razaf. American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle sings Over The Rainbow, accompanied by Pallo, pianist Rio Clemente and bassist Jay Leonhart, to close this wonderful celebration of an innovator and legend. Thank you Lou Pallo for this terrific recording.

I received a review copy of the CD from a publicist. There is also a CD/Bonus DVD package available and a DVD. Here is a video of Lou Pallo with les Paul.

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