Sapphire Blue


Sapphire BlueIt is said that the sins of the father are visited on the sons, but sometimes Junior’s sins are visited on poor dad. Players like Larry Carlton, David Sanborn, Jaco Pastorius, and Eddie Van Halen developed new, personal sounds and techniques on their instruments that have since been bastardized by dozens of less-talented offspring, often leading to an unfair denigration of the progenitors. Carlton’s smooth, singing guitar tone has been adopted by a legion of hacks who would never be able to create the inventive solos the LA session ace supplied to Steely Dan (see: “Kid Charlemagne”), nor the revolutionary textures he bestowed upon Joni Mitchell (see: all of Court and Spark). Granted the requirements of radio have occasionally softened his own edge; but offered the chance to record anything he wants results in Sapphire Blue–a horn-section driven, blues-based outing that reminds us why he is, well, Larry Carlton. From the opening romp of “Friday Night Shuffle,” to the closing down-home acoustic/harmonica duet of “Take Me Down,” this disc offers undiluted guitar soul with no concessions to the “smooth jazz” canon. Any doubts will be quickly dispelled with one listen to the title tune, where drummer Billy Kilson (Dave Holland) is allowed to go brilliantly berserk under the climax of Carlton’s final solo. Throughout, Carlton’s greasy playing rivals some of his best work with the Crusaders, providing a textbook for a new generation of guitarists. Let’s hope that this time they learn the right lessons. – Michael Ross

Track Listing:
1. Friday Night Shuffle
2. A Pair of Kings
3. Night Sweats
4. Sapphire Blue
5. 7 for You
6. Slightly Dirty
7. Just an Excuse
8. Take Me Down

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