The frigid temperature of a winter night in February did not keep fans of John Tropea, one of the most highly regarded guitar players of his generation, from showing up to hear the John Tropea Band perform songs from “Gotcha Rhythm Right Here”, Tropea’s brand new solo cd at The Cutting Room last Monday night. Produced, arranged and orchestrated by Tropea with B3 Hammond Organ virtuoso Chris Palmaro, the cd features some of the heaviest hitters of session musicians. Drummer Steve Gadd, Saxophonist Bill Harris, Bassist Zev Katz, Vocalist James “D-Train” Williams, Bassist Neil Jason, Vocalist Rally Bop, Drummer Cliff Almond, Trumpeter Glenn Drews, and Bassist Will Lee are just a short list of the over 30 musicians who recorded the album over a year and a half with Tropea and Palmaro. Released at the end of 2014, and originally recorded for Nippon Columbia in Japan, “Gotcha Rhythm Right Here” is Tropea’s first solo album since 2007’s “Take Me Back to the Ol’ School”.
The list of artists that Tropea has recorded with over a long and prolific career is filled with the highest profile names of multiple musical genres. Paul Simon, Laura Nyro, Bo Diddly, Ringo Starr, Harry Chapin, Barbra Streisand, Frankie Valli, Taj Mahal, Tim Curry, Roberta Flack, Dr. John, Spyro Gyra, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono, Liza Minelli, Lyle Lovett, Chaka Khan, Ashford and Simpson, James Brown, Kimikoh Itoh, Bonnie Raitt, Michael Franks, Van Morrison and T-Bone Walker comprise a smattering of the artists Tropea has lent his chops to. For fans of geek ephemera, Tropea was the guitarist on the 1977 disco hit “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” single recorded by Meco that hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in October of that year. He also appears as guitarist on Eumir Deodato’s nine minute funk version of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op 30” entitled “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001), which won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
Despite the long and varied career that has brought Tropea to the vaunted status he has reached today, his roots, according to frequent collaborator and friend Palmaro, are deeply funk and r&b. A lot of horns are featured on “Gotcha Rhythm Right Here”, and Monday night’s performance at The Cutting Room was no exception. Tropea’s lineup of musicians featured a six piece horn section. Alto Saxophonist Bill Harris was joined by Dave Mann on Tenor Sax, Dave Rieckenberg on Baritone Sax, Glenn Drews on Trumpet, Bob Millikan on Trumpet and Larry Farrell on Trombone. The roster was rounded out by Palmaro on Hammond B3 organ, Shawn Pelton on Drums, Neil Jason on Bass and Tommy McDonnell on Percussion. The room was pretty full in spite of the ice and snow that kept many indoors that night, and the set Tropea and his band performed had a few people out of their seats dancing on the perimeter of the room. For fans who could not make it to the show, The Cutting Room is organizing an encore performance for the end of March. For performance updates, and to purchase “Gotcha Rhythm Right Here”, visit www.JohnTropea.com.