John Tropea: Marlin Records’ Virtuoso Guitarist of Futuristic Soul, Jazz, Funk, and Disco
How does a virtuoso jazz fusion guitarist end up making a disco record? By signing to Henry Stone’s Marlin Records in the 1970’s of course.
John Tropea is a Berklee School of Music six string master whose academic training belies a penchant for soul, funk, Latin, blues, and r&b jams.
These traits saw him land a record deal with Henry Stone’s T.K. Records empire in 1975, record three critically acclaimed full-length albums, and sling mountains of product through Stone’s octopus-like multinational reach of singles, LP’s, and promos.
Tropea’s first Marlin album was the self titled Tropea, which included distribution in the U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Venezuela, Spain, the U.S., and Canada. Its experimental, soulified smooth-jazz and funk flavor still rings fresh today. Just check out the song “Tambourine” for proof.
His second album on the Marlin label was the still futuristic sounding Short Trip To Space. Great music on here too. If you find a copy, grab it. It’s a classic.
Tropea’s third album for Marlin was To Touch You Again, which contains the ever-funky “Livin In The Jungle.” This track saw a dance floor remix and also came out as a 12″ single on the T.K. Disco label. It’s low B.P.M’s but driving bass make it the perfect breathcatcher in the nightclub. And though it may seem contrary to dance logic, contemporary jazz inflected tuneage was quite popular in disco nightclubs. One need only look at the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack for proof. A T.K. Productions jazz master by the name of Ralph Macdonald found himself a reticent disco star after his “Calypso Breakdown” became a hit with club DJ’s after Henry Stone promoted him via a T.K. Disco 12″.
John Tropea’s Marlin albums are awesomely chill, super relaxing, dynamically meditative, and very enjoyable. Thankfully Steve Alaimo and Henry Stone saw his talent fit for their empire and signed him up for recordings.
Tropea is still recording and releasing new music and just came out with his 11th album, entitle Gotcha Rhythm Right Here. Visit www.johntropea.com for more info.