Thom Rotella – Story Line

The title of guitarist Thom Rotella’s new CD Story Line is apt indeed, as it reflects his approach in both composition and playing. As talented and experienced a player as he is, Rotella is, above all, a musician who tells stories. It’s never just about technical prowess with flashy pyrotechnics, but more about communication with audiences and fellow musicians. On this CD the incredible lineup of musicians is Bob Sheppard: bass clarinet; Tierney Sutton: vocals, Mitchel Forman: Rhodes; Nick Mancini: vibraphone; Trey Henry: bass; Jimmy Branly: drums; Dan Higgins:bass clarinet;

Rotella presents a beautiful mix of jazz and popular chestnuts and striking originals. With a carefully chosen group of musicians, the group offers appealing and gorgeously atmospheric versions of; the Beatles’ “Come Together”; Thelonious Monk’s“ ’Round Midnight”; Wes Montgomery’s “Four On Six”; Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor”; the standards “When I Fall In Love” and “Besame Mucho”; and Rotella’s soulful and lovely originals – “Oddball”, “Monkey Bizness”, “Storyline”, “Dawn is Here”,”Nuze Bluze” and “Take It With You.” All of these tunes defy category except the one important one – they all make for terrific music and rewarding listening.

Thom Rotella has been a vital musician for many years with experience as a best-selling recording artist, an in-demand player for film and television. Above all he’s been a creative performing jazz musician, whose talents have led him to work with Stanley Turrentine, Tom Scott, Gerald Albright, Plas Johnson and musicians as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Cher, Donna Summer, Norah Jones and many, many others. All this great history beautifully informs this special new recording.

“I remember it like it was yesterday…I’m eight years old and my buddy, Rich and I are looking through the basement window of Mt. Carmel Church (Niagara Falls, NY) where there’s a dance going on. I see this multi-headed monster, with arms flailing and all this sound and energy blasting me, and people dancing… it was the first time I saw a live band and I said to myself, man I gotta be a part of this!!!!
— Thom Rotella

Now a talented instrumentalist and composer, Thom Rotella has achieved both critical and commercial success. He has produced and recorded 13 CDs as a leader, been a vital musician for many years with experience as a best-selling recording artist and an in-demand session player for film and television. Above all he’s been a creative performing and recording jazz musician and composer.

Thom Rotella was born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., surrounded by a very musical family. When he was six years old he started playing for the fun of it on his grandfather’s guitar. He began serious guitar lessons at the age of ten. As a teenager, Rotella played rock ‘n roll, but soon discovered jazz through the recordings of Wes Montgomery. He subsequently attended Ithaca College (as a classical guitar major), and while at Berklee College, studied under Gary Burton (1970-1972). Rotella left Berklee to tour with a lounge band, then moved to Los Angeles where he found a mentor in the legendary studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco. He quickly established himself as a top call studio musician. However, after a few years of this work, he began to miss performing live, so in 1980 moved to New York, where although he continued studio work, he also had more opportunities for live performance.

It was at this time that he was “discovered” by the pioneer digital recording company, DMP (Digital Music Products) and made 3 CDs, (1987-90) all of which found a world-wide market, receiving extensive radio airplay.

By 1988, with enough of New York under his musical belt, he moved back to Los Angeles. A 1996 Christmas album for Telarc led to a signing with that label and the recording of 1997s “Can’t Stop,” which included the top radio hit “What’s the Story.” Taking a hiatus for a while, in 2002, Rotella returned to the scene with an “homage” to Wes Montgomery, titled “A Day In The Life.” That was followed by a straight-ahead jazz release, “Out of the Blues.” in 2007 and another Christmas CD, “12” in 2012.

He is currently working on a new jazz CD; is featured on a big band collaboration with composer Walter Murphy (“Family Guy”, “Ted, Fifth of Beethoven”) and continues performing with his 4tet, with sax legend Ernie Watts. Rotella says: “There is nothing more fun than playing live, because I’m able to get an instantaneous response to what we’re doing as a band, and to see how that moves people emotionally. The interplay between these musicians is incredible, and always leads to surprises.”

Rotella continues to surprise and lead his audiences into often-uncharted territory — but always with that sense of adventure and passion that have been a cornerstone of his musical life.

Story Line is available on CDBaby.

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