John Tropea is one of the most admired and highly regarded guitar players of his generation. His playing shows a vast knowledge and respect for the tradition of the instrument as well as an original style that continues to define how the guitar best serves a wide variety of musical styles. He is a musician’s musician who attracts the finest players for his own projects.
Tropea has written for and played with major recording artists from around the world. In his long career, his contributions to other artist’s successes have been numerous, including his solo work with Deodato, (2001 theme), projects with Laura Nyro, Harry Chapin (Cat’s in the Cradle), Paul Simon (Fifty Ways), Alice Cooper (Goes to Hell), Eric Clapton (Journey Man), Dr. John, and many others. He is also a composer, arranger, and producer whose vital work is ably demonstrated by his personal projects. Tropea has a deserved worldwide reputation as an artist of quality among both audiences and other musicians.
Tropea began guitar studies at the age of 12. His musical education continued at Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he studied jazz guitar, harmony, composition, and big band arranging. Immediately after arriving in Boston, Tropea began playing live R & B and jazz gigs with many different bands in the area, including The Three Degrees. Influenced by Wes Montgomery, Johnny Smith, Louis Bonfa, Pat Martino, and George Benson, it was at this time that he began to absorb those influences into an original style of his own. Also among his mentors at the time were the great B3 organ players Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith.
After Berklee, around 1972, Tropea began recording and touring with Deodato. He quickly became one of the most sought after session players. He soon became a peer among New York’s finest studio musicians. In the 70’s as well as world touring, He wrote and produced three critically acclaimed solo albums with TK records.
His first solo album “Tropea,” was released in 1975, followed by “Short Trip to Space,” and “To Touch You Again.” With those early recordings and other projects, he formed close musical alliances with other great New York musicians including: Will Lee, David Spinozza, Warren Bernhardt, David Sanborn, Randy and Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson, Don Grolnick, and Richard Tee (Tropea played in TheRichard Tee band). During this time John also wrote and arranged music for film and broadcast advertising. With his frequent co-producer and close friend Will Lee, they went on to release “Simple Way to say ‘I Love You,’ and “Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blues”. Live gigs from that era by The Tropea Band “Live at Mikell’s”, in New York City, remain legendary. Along with his own projects, Tropea currently also plays with the Original Blues Brothers Band.
With the respect he has gained from some of the finest musicians playing today, Tropea has been able to put together a group that shares his vision, that continues to re-define venerable traditions, and that makes music together that is of lasting beauty and significance. He has once again gotten back to his live audience, as well as those who follow his recordings, and with this band, he has found his apotheosis.
“Take Me Back To The Ol’ School”
Led by John Tropea as the artist and produced by John Tropea and Will Lee, this cd captures the essence of their performance, composition and production abilities. Along with Tropea and Lee, the production features many of their fellow musicians on the scene both in the studio and on stage such as:
Paul Shaffer, Lalah Hathaway, Bob James, Ricky Peterson, Chris Palmaro, Ronnie Cuber, Dave Mann, Leon Pendarvis, Lew Soloff and others.
In addition it also features five drummers of the highest caliber:
Steve Gadd, Rich Marotta, Shawn Pelton, Cliff Almond & Charley Drayton
The cuts vary from favorite jazz, blues and funky R & B standards :
Donna Lee, Let’s Get It On, Keep On Truckin’, You Are My Heaven and Long and Winding Road
Along with four originals by Tropea and Lee:
Ol’ School, Cute Song, Cuban Nights, Close But No Guitar.
Ol’ School particularly captures the theme of the cd. Bring you back to the days of a live funky band in the studio, recording on “tape”!
“Take Me Back To The Ol’ School” represents much of the stuff these musicians did in the 70’s and on, as innovative studio musicians.
John takes his natural groove and applies it to some great original songs. His legendary arranging skills really shine on the cover tunes as well. I particularly love the Beatles' Long & Winding Road, which features stunning vocals by Lalah Hathaway.
"John's playing on "Take Me Back To The Ol' School" is a continuation of an amazing career as "guitarists guitarist". Fluid lines, harmonic depth and of course, a deep solid groove in all styles and feels. But it is his "Ol' School" sound that keeps him always new and an inspiration to all us guitarists. Check him out!"
"Tropes", as some of us endearingly call him, is one of the most versatile musicians (let alone guitarists) that I have had the pleasure and honor to meet, and play with. His strengths, in my opinion, range from jazz and bebop to some pretty funky rhythm playing, both of which are as authentic as they get. Not as easy accomplishment, I can personally attest to. But, John does this as well as anyone. Enjoy!
Web site: www.johntropea.com
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