Rolling Stone magazine selected the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time in 2003, senior editor David Fricke ranked Gatton 63rd on his ballot. On May 26, 2010, Gibson.com ranked Gatton as the 27th best guitarist of all time
This interesting outing by an all-star group (guitarist Danny Gatton, altoist Bobby Watson, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman on tenor, pianist Franck Amsallem, bassist Charles Fambrough and drummer Yuron Israel) is most notable for featuring the brilliant Gatton in a jazz setting. Together the septet, performs nine originals by group members and Gatton and Watson
emerge as the main solo stars. Despite its somewhat generic name, this
advanced hard bop date is quite memorable.
This is EXACTLY what I think of when I think of New York style jazz. As
you listen to it, you feel as if you are cruising in a cab on a
rain-drenched night in Manhattan, off to meet some classy lady for a
night on the town. The line-up is superb: Danny Gatton on guitar,
showing off his jazz licks with his unique rockabilly spice; amazing
trumpet playing by Lee Hargrove; delightful and tasteful Joshua Redman
on tenor sax; plus others. Every single cat is WAILING on this release.
Look for incredible ensemble playing in the horns, presenting that
big, New York banner sound. Get it soon, if you can find it!
The guitarist is Danny Gatton, and though I suppose there could be some
people who don't like his guitar playing, he was one of those
under-appreciated guitar geniuses who could play any style, and could
fuse any styles -- thus he was impossible to pigeonhole or market in the
contemporary music world. His playing on this album is brilliant, and I
would argue than anyone who believes jazz "requires" a hollow-body
guitar hasn't really listened.
I should point out, in the context
of the guitar discussion above, that this is really an ensemble piece
by a group of master musicians -- Danny Gatton's guitar is not really
featured any more (well, maybe a little) than Franck Amsallem's piano,
and the album wouldn't be as good as it is without the the horn section
of Bobby Watson, Roy Hargrove, and Joshua Redman, the bass of Charles
Fambrough, and the drums of Yuron Israel. Of the 9 tracks, 3 were
composed by Gatton, 2 by Watson, and 1 each by Fambrough, Amsallem,
Israel, and Hargrove -- to the extent that any one person can be said to
have "composed" a piece in what was intended to be an old-style Blue
Note jam session.
This CD is timeless and an absolute classic.
It has to rate as one of my top 5 -- maybe *the* top -- jazz albums
ever. The playing, the production, and the overall recording quality
are superb. A look at what people are charging for used copies of this
CD will indicate how much it's treasured by those who know it.
Already legendary for his country and rock and roll guitar mastery, the
late Danny Gatton also released a pure jazz CD on Blue Note, "New York
Stories." If there was any doubt that this incredible musician was
capable of any style, any time, any place, this CD will put those doubts
to rest and we will continue to mourn and lament the passing of one of
the greatest guitarists in history. His suicide was provoked according
to some theories by his poor record sales, and what a shame.
"New York Stories" is actually a jazz combo effort with Gatton writing
all or part of the tunes and sharing his time with a stellar piano and
horn section. This is a jam session, and according to the liner notes, a
limited amount of rehearsal was allowed to keep the tunes fresh and to
allow the improvisational juices to flow.
It's smooth - so
much so you almost want to take up smoking and don a fedora while you
listen. It harkens back to the smoky dangerous days of the '40's and
'50's, where down and dirty jazz emanated from grimy clubs in the bad
parts of town. Yet at times the music is ethereal, such as the guitar
tour de force "One For Lenny" that closes the CD.
here is reminiscent of Miles Davis' early years, ala "Walking" and
"Someday My Prince Will Come" and perhaps a little Brubeck piano and sax
Even rockers will appreciate the mastery on this
session. "New York Stories" goes down like a cool drink on a hot summer
afternoon, welcome as a surprise snowfall in July would be.
Danny was such a great player; he often sounded like two. If I hadn't
been there, I'd be looking for the open second track, particularly on
One for Lenny. Having always been a fan of Five O'Clock Bells and Mo'
Breau (also produced by Doyle) it was like he was channeling Lenny.
Doyle was always good at throwing people together, like the night he got
SRV to drop by on one of Johnny's records. But he really outdid himself
on this group. Fambrough had a record on the jazz charts at the time,
and Bobby Watson had obviously been around but some of the other guys
were just starting out. "Who's that kid?" "That's Dewey Redman's son,
You know what else? Danny was also a really nice, quiet,
unassuming guy for someone so talented. The Tele did the talking. I
asked him to sign my copy of Elmira St. (which lost the Grammy to Eric
Johnson that year. I mean, that had to hurt! Any other year... Think
about it; if he won, would he still be here today?)
signed it, "Thanks a mil, Danny Gatton" I wish I had that on this
record, but of course it didn't exist at the time. And unfortunately, I
never saw him again.
1. Dolly's Ditty
2. Wheel Within A Wheel
3. Ice Maidens
4. Out A Day
5. Mike The Cat
6. The Move
7. A Clear Thought
9. One For Lenny
Danny Gatton (guitar),
Bobby Watson (alto saxophone),
Joshua Redman (saxophone),
Roy Hargrove (trumpet),
Franck Amsallem (keyboards),
Charles Fambrough (bass),
Yoron Israel (drums)