This is incredible stuff. Hardly a scoop to guitar players. What surprises me is that there are tapes of Danny Gatton out there that sound this good, and we’ve never heard them.
This one’s a live recording from June of 1988, and features Danny with Funhouse, the jazz-based group of fellas he did a weekly gig with in the Washington area. This one also benefits from the appearance of Buddy Emmons on pedal steel. Buddy, of course, expanded the horizons of the instrument, usually used in country music, by playing brilliant jazz on the steel for a long time. This gig deals mostly in the jazz genre, and Buddy and Danny seemed joined at the hip at times.
Danny Gatton was truly one of those unique, gifted players who pointed the way for other guitarists. Over the space of 10 cuts Danny has a chance to show what a gifted comper he is. His soloing, as always is beyond compare. His choice of tunes is amazing. He was the entire package. None of this is news to players familiar with his work. Check out “Off the Top,” a full-tilt swinger that features a solo that would make Tal Farlow smile. To top it off, he runs it through the rockabilly blender just for good measure. The beautiful “Land of Make Believe” features nice chordal work with Buddy floating notes behind Danny to take you to the land mentioned in the title. “Smoke and Mirrors” is a bopper that lets Danny mix chords, octaves, and single-lines in that magical way only he could accomplish.
If you’re a fan of Gatton’s this is yet another one you have to have. If you haven’t latched on to Danny, go to bigmo.com and pick up this and anything else by him you can. Danny was not just a great guitarist, but a truly brilliant musician.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.