Greg Skaff: Tropicalia
Greg Skaff (guitar)
East Harlem Skyline (Zoho ZM200902)
Composed by Greg Skaff.
Recorded: New York November 9, 2007
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
According to the liner notes, "Tropicalia" was inspired by Greg Skaff's reading of Caetano Veloso's autobiography Tropical Truth: A Story of Music & Revolution in Brazil. Veloso is a musician and political activist and the father of Tropicalismo – the melding of Brazilian pop, rock 'n' roll and avant-garde music, poetry and theater – in part a protest to Brazil's military dictatorship of the 1960s.
In this classic demonstration of the art of the guitar/organ/drum trio, Messrs. Skaff, Colligan and Strickland prove they are up to carrying on the great tradition of those who went before them. Skaff, with a distinctly Wes Montgomery-sounding guitar tone, starts this piece with a samba-like octave riff that is repeated to set the melody line. The music evokes the image of lightly swaying palms in a windblown breeze. His solo excursions are smooth, mellow and inventive without any flash, in the tradition of the practitioners of this laid-back cool sound. Much-in-demand keyboardist Colligan, besides his well thought-out comping behind Skaff, offers his own brand of cool on a bouncy B-3 solo. Drummer E.J. Strickland keeps impeccable time throughout. As the tune enters the coda Skaff, sounding amazingly like White Rabbit-era Benson in his phrasing, trades riffs with Colligan, as Strickland actively punctuates the proceedings.
This trio gigged around the New York City area together before making this recording – according to Colligan, in one sitting. They ably demonstrate how, when the spirit moves, you can cook with the coolness of dry ice.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello