There’s an intentional uniformity to the overall feel of the set even if each selection is distinctive due to the players involved and the range of genres. For example, a Louis Armstrong-esque trumpet introduces “”St. Louis Blues,” with singer Jon Paris laying down some hot slide and harp. You can’t get more Country & Western than “Tennessee Waltz” with Pallo and Nicki Parrott sharing some very old-fashioned harmonies.
Pulling it all together, American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle belts out the grande finale, “Over the Rainbow,” easily the most powerful vocal delivery on the album. Some tunes are more closely connected to Paul than others, such as the old Paul and Mary Ford hit, “ViaCon Dios” performed here by guitarist Arlen Roth and his daughter Lexie. Other notables joining Pallo include Blondie Chaplin, Frank Vignola, Tommy Doyle, and Bucky Pizzarelli.
There will be two versions of Thank You Les coming out this September. One is just the music, the other will include a DVD documentary that apparently goes behind the scenes with Pallo and friends. Speaking of DVDs, an earlier release, Les Paul: Live in New York,captures the master, Pallo, and guests on one of those memorable Monday evenings at the Iridium Jazz Club. Keith Richards, Steve Miller, and Jose Feliciano are among the folks who join in on the intimate sessions with very basic amps, light banter, and a homey approach to the music where jazz meets country and blues with no daylight between them.
Experience that concert when you can, and you’ll realize Thank You Les is what a tribute album should be. If you’re lucky, you can stop by the Iridium any Monday you like—the Les Paul Trio is still doing it.