Guitarist Larry Carlton is both a well respected session guitarist and leader; but also a icon that has played on well over 4,000 recordings ranging from jazz, soul, and film scores. In a career that spans some 45 years, Carlton’s distictive guitar style has added flavor to musicians like Donald Fagan, Joni Mitchell, The Crusaders, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Mike Post and other bands and musicians that are way to long to mention. The 19-time-Grammy Award Nominee and 4-time winner was again nominated for an award during this year’s 2013 ceremonies and is a recipient of many other jazz and guitar awards.
Larry named his recording studio as well as his record label 335 Records after his nickname, which was named after a Gibson model guitar that he made famous during his time as a session musician during the 1970′s. His latest release “Larry Carlton and Robben Ford: Unplugged”, is a live set with famed blues guitarist Robben Ford.
The New Morning club in Paris presents the incredible – and long awaited – pairing of two guitar giants for their first Unplugged show. Imagine: Larry Carlton and Special Guest Robben Ford, two legendary guitarists… one stage unplugged… a guitar lover’s dream! This unique pairing of two all-time great guitar legends delivers an unforgettable evening of dueling guitar solos and an uncompromising evening of The Blues performed the way it was meant to be.
Nineteen-time GRAMMY NOMINEE, four-time GRAMMY WINNER and all-time guitar great, Larry Carlton established himself from his first recording, A Little Help From My Friends. His studio credits include musicians and groups like Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Bobby Bland, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and literally dozens of others. He went on to perform with the Crusaders and then with the multi platinum jazz super group Fourplay. With more than 30 albums to his credit and having performed on over 100 albums that have gone Gold or Platinum, Larry Carlton has set a standard for artistry that spans three decades.
Joining forces with Larry in Paris is Robben Ford who at 18 he was playing with the likes of Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmy Witherspoon, the L.A. Express with Tom Scott, George Harrison, and Joni Mitchell. He was a founding member of the Yellowjackets, then went on to tour with Miles Davis, Sadao Watanabe, and Little Feat. In 1992 he returned to his roots: the blues – a genre he masters in most exquisite grand style.
￼￼￼￼￼1. NM Blues 08
2. That Road
4. Cold Gold
5. Hand In Hand With The Blues
6. Amen AC
7. I Put A Spell On You
8. Rio Samba
DVD features: Before the Show
CD – $18.95
DVD – $24.95
by S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews
Back in high school while my buddies were air guitaring to Led Zeppelin, Boston and Lynard Skynard, ol’ Ish here played out fantasies of ripping up the fret board like Larry Carlton. I got hooked on his super tasty, blues-based guitar work from his time with Steely Dan and the Crusaders (it was only later that I discovered that he played on a jillion other records of every musical style around that time). When Carlton left the Crusaders by the end of ’76, he embarked on a solo career that he pursued earnestly up to this day, racking up four Grammies and 19 Grammy nominations along the way. I followed his solo career closely from the late 70s through the mid 90s and on and off after that, depending on whether his project was more or less commercially inclined.
Four Hands & A Heart Volume One, currently his most recent project, most definitely falls on the non-commercial side of the Larry ledger. These are tracks performed entirely by Mr. 335 himself, each with a rhythm guitar, a lead guitar and sometimes a rhythm track that I could have sworn came from a Casio keyboard. Moreover, every song came from Carlton’s first three Warner Bros. releases that were also his first three albums of his post-Crusaders solo career: Larry Carlton (1978), Strikes Twice (1980) and Sleepwalk (1982).
Carlton is a seriously polished producer and songwriter in addition to being a phenomenal guitarist, so it might be tempting to slam Four Hands & A Heart as the half assed work of someone taking the easy way out by recycling old tunes and making what are essentially demos out of them. That’s one way to look at it, but looking at it in such a way overlooks the real, substantial merits of this album. Carlton takes these songs and — unless they’re ballads like “It Was Only Yesterday” — slows them down from their original renderings. By doing so, he makes it easier for guitar enthusiasts dissect his lead parts on songs that were originally played with impossibly complex chord clusters played in tightly compacted spaces. And Carlton’s leads sound great slow as much as they sound great fast, because of the nuance and feel he invests into every note; “Room 335″ and “Strikes Twice” are such guitar burners heard in an entirely different light as they’re stripped and decelerated.
Secondly, removing all that production leaves these songs bare, and that makes it easier to appreciate what memorable, nicely constructed melodies Carlton was crafting at a time when he was known only as the pre-eminent studio guitarist in L.A. Carlton’s minor charting hit, “Sleepwalk” is featured, too, although that’s the lone song that’s not his own, and offers perhaps the least revelations with this rendition. The old school fans like me will notice that the songs are all sequenced in the same way as they were on the original albums, when allowing for the songs he skipped. Curiously though, the Sleepwalk songs come before the earlier songs from Strikes Twice.
So although Four Hands & A Heart Volume One might be narrowly focused in its mission, there’s something in it for Larry Carlton fans of every stripe. Guitar fans will find plenty of the accomplished six-string performances Carlton never fails at delivering, even at the leisurely pace found here. Original fans will get to walk down memory lane with Carlton as he takes on strains of solid songs guys like me hadn’t heard in years. And later fans get a fine introduction to his pre-”Smiles And Smiles To Go” fare.
One final thing about this record that’s pretty damned neat: here is a musician who, with all his accomplishments spanning four decades, makes a demo-like record that could have been by some talented but unknown musician to shop around to record labels in hopes of catching his first big break. And yet, this record earned Carlton that 19th Grammy nomination. So, I guess he passed the audition.
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Receive 20% off the price of Tak Matsumoto’s Strings of my Soul, Larry Carlton’s Then & Now featuring Four Hands & a Heart Volume One or Larry Carlton’s Four Hands & a Heart Volume One.
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Tak Matsumoto – Strings of My Soul – $18.95
Larry Carlton – Then & Now Box Set including Four Hands & a Heart, Volume One – $47.95 (Box Set)
Larry Carlton – Four Hands & A Heart Volume One – $18.95
Source: Jazz Journal
There is always a sense of anticipation seeing Larry Carlton perform live, where he can give full vent to his prodigious talents as a legendary – and I use the term advisedly – guitarist, composer and arranger. He first picked up a guitar aged six, and the rest is an unbroken history.
He was joined on stage at the Leicester Square Theatre by his son, Travis Carlton (bass), Gene Coye (drums), and Dennis Hamm (keyboards). They gelled well as a unit, although the balance and levels on the various keyboards were not always ideal. Carlton quietly walked on stage to tell us he never quite knows what he is going to play on a given night, but that he would “try all kinds of stuff” – exciting.
The set opened with two solo pieces on his trademark Gibson ES-335, the first a mood-setting slow ballad, then inviting the band members one by one to join him on stage, before ripping into an ensemble finger-snapping and driving funk groove. As aficionados would expect, the guitar work was by turns tasty, mean, incendiary and lyrical.
A jazz piece followed with melodic shades of Autumn Leaves. Carlton once described the blues as a big part of his spirit, and the evening was lit up by three very contrasting outings providing him the acres of space to explore his vast range of tone and voicing. Next up was Steely Dan’s Josie, a tune that bears so much of his inimitable stamp, before the first set closed with a slow-burning blues full of note-bending.
The venue had apparently required an interval, to the bemusement of the audience – and Carlton himself, who was on song and in full cry – and after the break, the tempo slackened perceptibly with a more pop-inflected Smiles And Smiles To Go” from the 1986 Alone/But Never Alone album. Another ballad, then a change of gear with the taut and springy Ultralight, Carlton’s final composition for Fourplay, whom he left in early 2010 after 12 years, to “delve further into his solo career”.
Carlton, conscious of his legacy, has always passed on his knowledge and experience to others, whether via his online guitar clinics – the audience seemed full of guitar players of a certain age – or here, where he endearingly decided upon an impromptu question and answer session with the audience. Some predictably impossible to answer questions followed, but he mentioned that his greatest early influences remain Coltrane and Miles, and of guitar players – Joe Pass.
He also said: “the music comes out emotionally, I’m not even aware of what’s coming out.” This is how I have always experienced his music – emotionally substantial, contained but free, and always very personal and direct. The evening closed with his signature Room 335. Alas, no encore as he had to be up at 5am to perform next evening in Bilbao. Even a 64-year-old on top form, peeling back the years, needs his sleep.
Larry Carlton just announced a new international tour starting in July. Check out this review for an idea of what you might get out of the experience of attending one of those shows!
Source: “Larry Carlton reaffirms his spot among guitar legends” – Dallas Morning News
The jazz-rock guitar legend warned fans at the Granada Theater on Friday night not too expect too much. For starters, he hadn’t touched a guitar in three weeks, and he fretted over what might happen to his fingers. “Anyone have a Band-Aid?” he joked.
He was also playing for the first time with Tim Lefebvre, who was filling in for Travis Carlton, the guitarist’s son and usual bassist. But neither the new player nor the tender digits detracted from a show that reaffirmed Carlton’s status as one the best guitarists most people never heard of — even though they’ve probably heard his work.
Like Lee Ritenour — another Fourplay alum who performed in the area recently — Carlton started out as an L.A. studio cat playing on scores of records in ’70s and ’80s, including Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and the theme from Hill Street Blues. But he’s most revered for his work with Steely Dan: His tasty wailing on “Kid Charlemagne” inspired Rolling Stone to rank it as one of the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.”
Sadly, Carlton skipped “Charlemagne” Friday, but he did play two other Steely Dan tunes: A superfast overhaul of “Peg,” and “Josie,” which he inexplicably introduced as “a song I hate to play.” Maybe so. But he performed it with supple gusto, bending notes and holding them until he’d arranged the perfect marriage of bebop and blues.
Carlton began the show alone, showing off a feathery touch on “Goodbye,” a ballad he dedicated to Les Paul. Staying in a mellow mood with a cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” he poured enough sweet soul into the tune you barely missed Teddy Pendergrass’ voice.
His quartet then joined him, and Carlton picked up the pace, slashing his way through jump blues and fiery fusion. Like Jeff Beck, he’s the rare guitarist who rocks hard without resorting to the clichés of hard rock.
He got subtle backing from keyboardist Dennis Hamm and drummer Gene Coye. And bass ace Lefebvre did an admirable job for his first night with the band, although he had trouble with the ’50s classic “Sleep Walk” after a fan shouted a request for it.
But the backing band was almost an afterthought in a show that was basically an extended 90-minute guitar solo. That might sound unappetizing to anyone but guitar fanatics. But in Carlton’s nimble hands, it was one really long guitar solo well worth hearing.