DANNY GATTON'S new album "Unfinished Business" is dedicated to the memory of his father, but in a larger sense also pays tribute to the sprawling family of musicians who inspired Gatton to stick with the electric guitar and ultimately master it as few have.
You'd expect "Unfinished Business" to be a guitarist's guitar album -- and it's that, all right. From the opening cut, a vibrantly arranged version of "Cherokee" that evokes Les Paul's pioneering style in a thoroughly swinging and yet also dazzling fashion, Gatton plays flawlessly.
With each performance, though, the mood shifts, so it's likely that even listeners who can't tell a Fender from a Gibson are likely to find something appealing here. "Lappin' It Up," for instance, veers off into a buoyant lap steel guitar blues; "Melancholy Serenade," better known as Jackie Gleason's theme, is sweepingly and fittingly grand; "Sky King" celebrates the soulful sax-driven sound of R&B past, made all the more gritty by Gatton's slide guitar. And later, during one of the album's strongest performances, Gatton returns to the swing shift with the bristling "Homage to Charlie Christian," again with drummer Brooks Tegler providing an authentic beat.
There are other tunes worth hearing too, including a sumptuous remake of the Santo and Johnny hit "Sleepwalk" and the frenetic "Notcho Blues." Throughout, Gatton and a fine band of area musicians pay close attention to the nuances as well, the subtleties that, as much as anything, make these performances true to the music that inspired them.
DANNY GATTON -- "Unfinished Business" (NRG NR 17235). Appearing during brunch on Sundays at the Holiday Inn at Tysons Corner and Thursday nights at Gallagher's Penn Station.