Larry Carlton – Kid Gloves (1992)

FrontCover1.jpgLarry Eugene Carlton (born March 2, 1948) is an American guitarist who built his career as a studio musician in the 1970s and ’80s for acts such as Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell. He has participated in thousands of recording sessions, recorded on hundreds of albums in many genres, for television and movies, and on more than 100 gold records. He has been a member of the jazz fusion group The Crusaders and smooth jazz band Fourplay and has maintained a long solo career.

Carlton was born in Torrance, California in 1948 and at the age of six began guitar lessons. His interest in jazz came from hearing guitarist Joe Pass on the radio. From Pass he moved on to jazz guitarists Barney Kessel and Wes Montgomery and blues guitarist B.B. King. He went to junior college and Long Beach State College while playing professionally at clubs in Los Angeles.

During the 1970s, he found steady work as a studio musician on electric and acoustic guitar in a variety of genres: pop, jazz pop, rock, rhythm and blues, soul and country. Carlton appeared on hundreds of recording sessions with Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Bobby Bland, Sammy Davis, Jr., Paulinho Da Costa, the Fifth Dimension, Herb Alpert, Christopher Cross, Dolly Parton, Andy Williams, and the Partridge Family. Carlton performed on Mike Post’s 1981 “Theme from Hill Street Blues”.[citation needed] In 1982 he appeared on The Nightfly by Donald Fagen, lead singer for Steely Dan.

Larry Carlton 1979His guitar work on Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” from their 1976 LP The Royal Scam was ranked No. 80 on a list of the best guitar songs by Rolling Stone magazine.

Carlton recorded his debut solo album, With a Little Help from My Friends, in 1968. In the mid-’70s he built a home studio and called it Room 335 after the Gibson ES-335, an electric guitar he often played. He has recorded most of his albums at Room 335. In 1988, with his solo career in ascent, he was shot in the throat by a teenager outside Room 335 and suffered nerve and vocal cord damage, which delayed completion of the album he was working on at the time, On Solid Ground. His left arm was paralyzed and for six months he was unable to play more than a few notes.

Carlton produced six albums from 1978 to 1984. His version of “Sleepwalk” by Santo Farina climbed the pop and adult contemporary charts. From 1985-1990 he did various solo projects, including the live album Last Nite.

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Carlton was commissioned to compose music for the king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, in honor of the king’s birthday. He recorded The Jazz King (Sony BMG, 2008) with a jazz orchestra that included Tom Scott, Nathan East, and Earl Klugh. (by wikipedia)

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From the opening melody of “Kid Gloves,” it is obvious that Carlton’s commercial direction wasn’t about to change here. It is too easy to dismiss most of this session’s output as insipid fluff; however, a closer listen to the “The Preacher” finds an intense Carlton playing a very George Benson-like melody. There is also a bit of an edge to his playing in “Where Be Mosada?” There are of course the standard “lite” songs geared for radio airplay, such as “Oui Oui” and “Terry T.” The session’s best performance is Carlton’s solo rendition of “If I Could I Would,” a beautiful chordal solo. Another solid recording which can be appreciated by commercial jazz fans and guitarists. (by Robert Taylor)

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Personnel:
Alex Acuña (percussion)
Larry Carlton (guitar)
John Ferraro (drums)
Michael Fisher (percussion)
Abraham Laboriel (bass)
Eric Pershing (drum programming)
Matt Rollings (keyboards)
Kirk Whalum (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Kid Gloves (Carlton) 4.05
02. The Preacher (Carlton) 5.49
03. Michele’s Whistle (Carlton) 4.45
04. Oui Oui Si (Carlton/Rollings) 6.14
05. Heart To Heart (Carlton)
06. Just My Imagination (Strong/Whitfield) 5.30
07. Where Be Mosada (Carlton) 5.59
08. Farm Jazz (Carlton) 4.39
09. Terry T (Carlton) 5.11
10. If I Could I Would (Carlton) 2.16

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Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan – Two Of A Mind (1962)

FrontCover1.jpgTwo of a Mind is an album recorded by American jazz saxophonists Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan featuring performances recorded in 1962 which were released on the RCA Victor label. (by wikipedia)

Altoist Paul Desmond and baritonist Gerry Mulligan always made for a perfect team during their infrequent collaborations. Both of the saxophonists had immediately distinctive light tones, strong wits, and the ability to improvise melodically. Here the two masterful reed players are featured in pianoless quartets that also include Wendell Marshall, Joe Benjamin or John Beal on bass, and Connie Kay or Mel Lewis on drums. The songs all utilize common chord changes, including the two “originals” (“Two of a Mind” and “Blight of the Fumble Bee”), and the interplay between Desmond and Mulligan is consistently delightful. Highly recommended.  (by Scott Yanow)

When these sessions were recorded in the summer of 1962 Paul Desmond had been a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet for 10 years, penned the biggest-selling jazz single of all time Take Five, and stood alongside Stan Getz as the smoothest saxophonist of the era. ‘I think I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to sound like a dry martini’ he once quipped, also noting ‘I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness.’

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Even the critics who dismissed the quartet’s music, especially Brubeck’s sometimes clunky piano style and incorporation of folk or show tunes and odd time signatures, couldn’t deny that Desmond was something special. In their view he was a talent whose wings had been clipped by Brubeck (utter tosh frankly, as anyone with more than a passing knowledge the group will be quick to point out), but Brubeck did stipulate that his star altoist should not appear with other pianists on his solo sessions, and which led Desmond to work with a wide variety of players including a fruitful partnership with guitarist Jim Hall.

Gerry Mulligan Gerry Mulligan was more central to jazz’s cutting edge than Desmond, having played a key role in the Birth of the Cool sessions with Miles Davis as both performer and composer (uncredited at the time). In his quartet with Chet Baker, Chico Hamilton and Bob Whitlock, Mulligan solidified his claim to being one of the key West-Coast innovators, his understated baritone blending beautifully with Baker’s elegiac trumpet. Ornette Coleman’s quartet is often heralded for dropping the piano, allowing single line instruments more freedom away from the stringed beasts chordal nature, but Mulligan and Baker’s group had been piano-less since the turn of the fifties.

GerryMulliganThe discrete joy of Two of a Mind is just how civilised yet energised it is. Most of the tracks are mid to fast tempo, with Desmond and Mulligan contributing a tune a piece and the rest being urbane takes of standards such as All the Things You Are and The way You Look Tonight. Connie Kay was Desmond’s drummer of choice for most of his sixties solo sessions, and he always brought the same unshowy support he provided in his day job with the Modern Jazz Quintet (and also memorably on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks in 1968). Although the main focus is the interplay between the soloists, Kay and the various rhythm teams from these sessions rarely opt to merely hold time as closer inspection will reveal.

Desmond’s Two of a Mind is instantly recognisable as coming from the composer of Take Five – there’s something seductively feline about his themes – beautiful but oddly subjective and somewhat arch. The contrast between Desmond’s light alto and Mulligan’s more robust kneading of the theme being is one of the record’s many highlights. The only slow tempo tune is a gorgeous version of Stardust, with Mulligan’s chiaroscuro solo bringing a quiet sense of drama. Note how Desmond chips in with short statements, propping up Mulligan’s exposed solo. Throughout the album there is a true sense of dialogue, the inside knowledge the two share of these tunes allowing them to chip in without raining on the other’s parade. Where some of Desmond’s later solo recordings can verge on the anodyne, the partnership with Mulligan was consistently inspired, the space between baritone and alto providing plenty of room for both to smooch about in. (by Matt Groom)

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Personnel:
John Beal (bass on 04. + 05.)
Joe Benjamin (bass on 03. + 06.)
Paul Desmond (saxophone)
Connie Kay (drums)
Mel Lewis (drums on 03, + 06.)
Gerry Mulligan (saxophone)
Wendell Marshall (bass on 01. + 02.)

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Tracklist:
01. All the Things You Are (Kern/Hammerstein II) 5.49
02. Stardust (Carmichael/Parish) 8.21
03. Two Of A Mind (Desmond) 5.45
04. Blight Of The Fumble Bee (Mulligan) 6.33
05. The Way You Look Tonight (Kern/Fields) 7.19
06. Out Of Nowhere (Green/Heyman) 6.42

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