February 1, 2007
These discs were recorded live in 1978 at Washington D.C.’s Cellar Door with Gatton’s short-lived group, the Redneck Jazz Explosion. The ensemble featured pedal steeler extraordinaire Buddy Emmons—the only musician as far as I can tell who had the tenacious chops and encyclopedic improv skills to not only hang with Gatton, but goad him. The band’s moniker is apropos, as their setlist consists of tunes from Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, and a host of standards, as well as the occasional re-worked country classic. Gatton, who at this time was playing a ’61 Les Paul Custom (outfitted with an onboard contraption dubbed the Magic Dingus Box, which remotely controlled an Echoplex, an MXR EQ, a Leslie speaker cabinet, and his amp’s reverb and tremolo), is on fire on both discs. His jazzy lines and double-stop organ licks will drop your jaw and have you shaking your head, as he (and Emmons) seem to have an endless stash of lines and motifs at their fingertips. A guaranteed mindblower.