Guitarist Lou Pallo, the handsome man in the photo above, has an album coming out on September 11 that pays tribute to his late friend and bandmate Les Paul. Titled Thank You Les: A Tribute to Les Paul, the 21-track disc covers a range of styles—pop, jazz, country, rock and blues—all tastefully. Pallo sweetened the proceedings by including the contributions of a great wealth of guitar talent, including Keith Richards, Steve Miller (who wrote the CD’s resonant liner notes), Billy Gibbons, Jose Feliciano, Slash, Johnny A, Bucky Pizzarelli, Arlen Roth, Nokie Edwards, Frank Vignola, Bob Leive, Tommy Doyle and Jon Paris. Other artists lending a hand are singers Eddie Brigati, Jr., Blondie Chaplin, Nicki Parrott, Lexie Roth, Melinda Doolittle and members of the Les Paul Trio.
“Les was my guitar idol, and I was honored to work beside him and call him my friend for so many years,” Pallo says. “This tribute allows Les’ musicianship and sense of humor to take center stage giving everyone the opportunity to experience the Les Paul we knew well and the music he adored.”
The songs on the album include many of Paul’s favorites, along with others from the Great American Songbook. Thank You Les will be available as an individual CD and DVD, as well as in a combo package including both discs. The DVD documentary is a full-length behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, and is loaded with interviews, rare photos, musical performances and bonus features.
The musical thread that runs throughout the CD and the DVD is the relationship between Les Paul and his longtime friend and rhythm guitarist Lou Pallo, who many credit with helping Paul revitalize his career as a live performer after they first met in 1963 and soon after began performing together.
From the album’s opening track—a briskly swinging version of “Avalon,” featuring the fleet and nifty fretwork of Frank Vignola—to the closing cover of “Over the Rainbow,” it’s hard to imagine a more gracious host for all involved than Pallo and the rest of the Les Paul Trio. No one ever overplays their hand or dabbles in self-indulgence. Throughout there seems to be a real sense of camaraderie, all of it originating in love and admiration for Paul. Tribute records of this sort are often thrown-together, so-so affairs, but this one is altogether lovely and inspired.
Photo credit: Arnie Goodman