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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Chuck Loeb – All There Is (2002)

FrontCover1.jpgCharles Samuel “Chuck” Loeb (December 7, 1955 – July 31, 2017) was an American jazz guitarist and a member of the groups Steps Ahead and Fourplay.

Loeb was born in Nyack, New York, near New York City. At a young age, he listened to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Cream, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. According to a 2005 JazzTimes article, the first song he learned on guitar was Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”, which he would later play at a guest appearance with Dylan.[1] He discovered jazz when he was sixteen through the music of guitarists Wes Montgomery, George Benson, John McLaughlin, and Pat Martino. At that point, Loeb chose to become a musician and “never thought of doing anything else”.

He studied with local music teachers, then traveled to Philadelphia and became a student of jazz guitarist Dennis Sandole. In New York City, he learned from Jim Hall.[4] For two years he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, then left in 1976 to seek professional work in New York City.

In New York, Loeb played with Chico Hamilton, Ray Barreto, and Hubert Laws. Starting in 1979, he was a member of Stan Getz’s group. Getz later became the best man at his wedding to singer Carmen Cuesta. Loeb and Mitchel Forman, who was also in Getz’s group, formed the jazz fusion band Metro (1994). In the 1980s, he was a member of the group Steps Ahead, which included Michael Brecker, someone Loeb credits as an influence. He replaced Larry Carlton as guitarist in Fourplay (2010).

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Loeb and his wife have recorded together, with Cuesta providing vocals on his albums and Loeb playing on Cuesta’s albums, and their daughters Lizzy and Christina contributing vocals.

Loeb began a solo career in 1988 with his debut album My Shining Hour on the Japanese record label Pony Canyon. He released subsequent albums on DMP Digital Music Products among which “Life Colors” (1990) until receiving commercial success with Shanachie Records on The Music Inside (1996). The title song from the album held the number one position on the jazz charts for six weeks. Later, he produced Moon, the Stars, & the Setting Sun (1998), Listen(1999) In a Heartbeat (2001), and All There Is (2002).

Loeb’s music has appeared on TV shows, commercials, and movie soundtracks, including The Untouchables, You’ve Got Mail, and Hitch.

Loeb died of cancer on July 31, 2017, at the age of 61 (by wikipedia)

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Chuck Loeb’s All There Is is proof that one can be a tasteful guitarist working in the often-derided smooth jazz style and still be capable of making albums that are more than just easy listening sludge. Recorded in a simple small-group setting with no extraneous “special guests” around to muddy up the sound, Loeb unspools ten originals and tasteful covers (none of the tacky ’70s AM pop crossover attempts that marred 2001’s In a Heartbeat) in a relaxed style that never quite gets mellow in the pejorative sense. Clearly inspired by Wes Montgomery and George Benson’s work with Creed Taylor, Loeb steers clear of the pitfalls endemic to that style, maintaining melodic interest while never merely playing prettily. Even the Brazilian-influenced “Sarao,” which flirts with Chuck Mangione-style disco-pop thanks to the utterly retro ARP synth line and cooing female vocals, maintains its integrity thanks to some trickily precise soloing by Loeb and a rhythm section that actually has a bit of funk to it. All There Is is not for those raised on a diet of Ornette Coleman and ESP, but there’s a place for mood music, and this does it better than most. (by Stewart Mason)

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Personnel:
David Charles (percussion)
Carmen Cuesta (vocals)
Barry Danielian (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Brian Dunne (drums)
Ron Jenkins (bass)
Jeff Kashiwa (saxophone)
Will Lee (bass)
Chuck Loeb (guitar, keyboards, drum programming)
David Mann (keyboards, saxophone, flut, drum programming)
Mike Pope (bass)
Mike Ricchiuti (keyboards)
Andy Snitzer (saxophone)
Kirk Whalum (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. As Is (Loeb) 5.17
02. Sierra Nevada (Loeb/Mann) 4.22
03. True Or False (Dunne/Loeb/Ricchiuti/Jenkins) 5.23
04. Golden Heart (Loeb) 5.10
05. Sarao (Cuesta/Loeb) 5.32
06. Fundamentally Sound (Cuesta/Loeb) 4.49
07. In The Hands (Loeb/Lee) 5.09
08. Tenerife Blue (Loeb) 5.20
09. Bread & Butter (Loeb) 5.28
10. Love Is All There Is (Cuesta) 2.57

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Larry Carlton – Alone/But Never Alone (1986)

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 groups The Crusaders and Fourplay and has maintained a long solo career. (by wikipedia)

One of the few smooth jazz artists of the ’80s to make music that’s simultaneously melodically substantial and sonically contemplative, Larry Carlton hit a career high on 1986’s Alone/But Never Alone. Playing only acoustic guitar (with electric bass, drums, and synthesizers on most tracks), Carlton neatly sidesteps the twin pitfalls of new age mush and smooth jazz showboating, playing neatly phrased, well-thought solo lines against a variety of melodic and rhythmic backgrounds.

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The acoustic focus gives the album a timeless quality, even though a few tracks feature synthesizer lines that betray their mid-’80s origins, and the obviously spiritual quality of the music (song titles include not only the higher-power-oriented title track, but “Smiles and Smiles to Go” and “Perfect Peace,” and the centerpiece track is an instrumental setting of a common tune for “The Lord’s Prayer”) is becalming without being drippy or pillow-soft. This is not an album that will change the mind of those dead-set against smooth jazz, but it’s a small masterpiece of the genre. (by Stewart Mason)

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Personnel:
Larry Carlton (guitar, bass, keyboards)
Michael Fisher (percussion)
Abraham Laboriel (bass on 01., 05. + 07.)
Rick Marotta (drums)
Terry Trotter (keyboards on 05. + 08., synthesizer on 01.)

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Tracklist:
01. Smiles And Smiles To Go (Carlton) 5.48
02. Perfect Peace (Carlton) 4.28
03. Carrying You (Carlton) 4.00
04. The Lord’s Prayer (Malotte) 5.10
05. High Steppin’ (Carlton) 5.44
06. Whatever Happens (Withers/Carlton) 4.28
07. Pure Delight (Carlton) 5.33
08. Alone/But Never Alone (Carlton) 3.34

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Kenny G – Duotones (1986)

FrontCover1Duotones is the fourth studio album by American saxophonist Kenny G, released on September 29, 1986 by Arista Records. It features one of Kenny G’s best-known songs, “Songbird”, which reached number four on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The album peaked at number one on the Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, number five on the Jazz Albums chart, number six on the Billboard 200 and number eight on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[ The album was later certified 5× Platinum by the RIAA. (by wikipedia)

Kenny G’s breakthrough effort featured the hit “Songbird,” which is the definitive example of the saxophonist’s smooth, lyrical playing; the rest of the album is nearly as good, highlighting his melodic, jazzy pop. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
Great Night Car-Riding Music:
I heard the tune “Midnight Motions” on a jazz radio station, and I had to call to find out who was the artist. I bought it immediately. Midnight motions is like night car-riding music. It’s cool. It soothes me, as if I were walking through an empty Manhattan on a damp night after the rain, with a cool breeze. Or like cruising your car through the damp streets late at nite,hearing your tires on the wet pavement. Just feeling good and sailing. Midnight motions is soothing to the mind. I’m rather new to Kenny G’s music, but after this album, I plan to get to know his music better. (by Diamond M. Dominguezon)

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Personnel:
Walter Afanasieff (synthesized bass, keyboards, synthesizer)
Tony Gable (percussion)
Kenny G. (saxophone, background vocals, synthesized bass, keyboards, synthesizer)
Alan Glass (guitar, keyboards, synthesizer)
Greg “Gigi” Gonaway (drums,percussion)
Randy Jackson (bass, synthesized bass)
Cory Lerios (synthesized bass)
Kenny McDougald (drums)
Joe Plass (bass)
John Raymond (guitar)’
Corrado Rustici (guitar)
Roger Sause (keyboards, synthesizer)
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Sal Gallina (strings, violin, french horn on 03.)
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background vocals:
Kitty Beethoven – Gina Glass – Preston Glass – Yolanda Glass – Claytoven Richardson -Lenny Williams

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Tracklist:
01. Songbird” (Instrumental) (Kenny G.) 5.06
02. Midnight Motion  (Kenny G.) 4.10
03. Don’t Make Me Wait For Love (Afanasieff/Glass/Walden) 4.08
04. Sade (Kenny G.) 4.23
05. Champagne (Kenny G./McDougald) 4.48
06. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) (Bristol/Bullock/Fugua) 4.09
07. Slip Of The Tongue (Glass/Walden/Pianka) 4.55
08. Three Of A Kind (Kenny G./Glass/Walden/Pianka) 4.48
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09.  Esther (Afanasieff/Kenny G./Glass/Walden)

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Najee – Share My World (1994)

FrontCover1One of the best-selling instrumentalists of the late ’80s to mid-’90s, Najee has been a consistent favorite in the quiet storm and so-called “smooth jazz” markets. Often compared to Kenny G, George Howard, and Dave Koz, the New Yorker has been greatly influenced by Grover Washington Jr. — although he hasn’t been nearly as adventurous. Heavily produced and quite formulaic, Najee’s albums have tended to avoid improvisation and strive for commercial radio airplay above all else. Debuting in 1987 with Najee’s Theme, Najee was an immediate hit in the new adult contemporary (NAC) market. Similar pop/urban jazz dates like 1988’s Day by Day and 1990’s Tokyo Blue did nothing to jeopardize his niche on smooth jazz radio.

Onstage, Najee takes some risks and stretches out more. Morning Tenderness was released in 1998, followed by Love Songs (2000), Embrace (2003), My Point of View (2005), True Spirit (with John Grant, Victor Williams, and Dennis Chambers in 2006), Rising Sun (2007), and Mind Over Matter (2009). In 2012, Najee released his 14th studio album, The Smooth Side of Soul, featuring the track “First Kiss,” a collaboration with R&B vocalist Phil Perry. Najee returned in 2013 with The Morning After: A Musical Love Journey which included the song “Shinjuku,” a tribute to the late jazz keyboard legend George Duke. (by Alex Henderson)

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Well played typical set of Smooth Jazz with R&B vocals, nothing major here just good music for mellow moments. I actually find this one more playable than his 1990 album “Tokyo Blue” the production has improved greatly since then, the melodies are well-balanced. Since some songs can get boring at points my standouts are “Secret Admirer” “My Angel” If only “Laid Back” didn’t have that corny male hook then it woulda been a huge standout, how could they funk up a couldhave been great song, it was a fusion between Hip-Hop/R&B & Jazz which some call “Urban Jazz” which is an nice title IMO and “Broken Promises” is another nice one. Fans will enjoy this. (by Oldspice Evans)

And “I Didn’t Know (Instrumental) / Reprise “is one of the best smooth jazz compositions ever !

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Personnel:
Victor Bailey (bass)
Buz (vocals)
Robert Damper (keyboards, strings)
Bernard Davis (drums)
Fareed (guitar, synthesizer, programming, drums, percussion);
Bill Jacobs (vibraphone)
Pocket, D “Dirty Mugg” James (guitar)
Barry Johnson (bass, background vocals)
Morris Pleasure (keyboards, strings),
Najee (saxophone, various instruments)
Artie Reynolds (bass)
Richie Ruiz (percussion)
Alec Shantzis (keyboards)
Andrew Sherman (keyboards)
Bryan Tate (clavinet)
Issac Wiley Jr. (drums)
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background vocals:
Jerry Elcock – Christian – Armstead – Amanda Elliot – April Spikes – Lori Ann Velez – Angela Stribling – Ushanda Tiana Goldsboro

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Tracklist:
01. My Angel (Najee/Sherman/Fareed) 6.16
02. Laid Back (Christian) 4.51
03. Now That I’ve Found You (Pleasure) 6.53
04. Joy (Najee/Christian) 4.52
05. I Didn’t Know (Holmes/Basby) 5.53
06. Secret Admirer (Najee/Fareed) 4.59
07. (G) Street (Christian)  5:15
08. Broken Promises (Najee/Fareed) 5.11
09. Heart Like Mine (Christian) 6.37
10 Saleemah’s Dream (Najee) 2.00
11 Share My World (Sherman/Glannille/Najee/Fareed) 4.44
12. I Didn’t Know (Instrumental) / Reprise (Najee) 6.27

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