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Larry Carlton

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Larry Carlton - Larry Carlton [Warner Bros BSK 3221] (1978)

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Artist:

Larry Carlton

Title:

Larry Carlton

Released: 1978
Label: Warner Bros
Catalog: BSK 3221
Genre: Jazz
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Room 335
02 Where Did You Come From
03 Nite Crawler
04 Point It Up
05 Rio Samba
06 I Apologize
07 Don't Give It Up
08 (It Was) Only Yesterday
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Album Review

Jason Elias [allmusic.com]

Carlton's debut was 1968's With a Little Help From My Friends, a respectable if not boring effort of him playing popular songs of the time. As the guitarist for the Crusaders, he helped to personify their commercial and fulfilling West Coast sound from 1971-1976. During the end of his tenure, it seemed like the group was limiting what he could do on his own. In many respects, Larry Carlton renews the artist. Unlike many efforts of the time, Carlton enlists a small, accomplished band with bassist Abe Laboriel, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and Greg Mathieson on keyboards. "Room 335," an ode to the studio in L.A. where this was recorded, all but sets the stage for the style of his early solo work. "Nite Crawler," a track Carlton originally did with the Crusaders for Free As the Wind, shows up here. In this version, Carlton's lines replace Wilton Felder's sax lead and this is better than original. The album's best track, the exhilarating "Rio Samba," is a more muscular take on the work Lee Ritenour did at the time as Carlton hits amazing notes, aided by Mathieson's keyboard work. The last track, "(It Was) Only Yesterday" has Carlton's inimitable style of doing a disconsolate song with the emotion of his guitar providing a catharsis. Larry Carlton is a self-production and was a great way for Carlton to again do solo work.


Larry Carlton - Friends [Warner Bros 1-23834] (1983)

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Artist:

Larry Carlton

Title:

Friends

Released: 15 June 1983
Label: Warner Bros
Catalog: 1-23834
Genre: Jazz, Fusion


T R A C K L I S T:
01 Breaking Ground
02 South Town
03 Tequila
04 Blues For T.J.
05 Song In The 5th Grade
06 Crusin'
07 L.A., N.Y.
08 Friends
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Album Review

Robert Taylor [allmusic.com]

By the time Larry Carlton recorded Friends, his status as a guitar legend had already been established. In addition to being admired by musicians, he was also loved by Muzak programmers. His blend of happy pop-jazz was the perfect background music for dentist offices. For those who care to listen closer, there is some excellent guitar work being performed. A good example of this would be his creative improvisation on the introduction to ''South Town.'' His duet with B.B. King on ''Blues for TJ'' is wonderful. It is refreshing to hear two players who are more interested in sharing ideas than showing off. The scat version of ''Tequila,'' courtesy of Al Jarreau, was also interesting. As with most Carlton recordings, there is something here for just about everyone; there's just not enough of it.


Larry Carlton - Alone/But Never Alone (MCA-5689) (1986)

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Artist:

Larry Carlton

Title:

Alone/But Never Alone

Released: 1986
Label: MCA
Catalog: MCA-5689
Genre: Smooth Jazz
NOTE: Pressed on premium KC 569 virgin vinyl
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Smiles And Smiles To Go
02 Perfect Peace
03 Carrying You
04 The Lord's Prayer
05 High Steppin'
06 Whatever Happens
07 Pure Delight
08 Alone/But Never Alone
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Album Review

Stewart Mason [allmusic.com]

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. 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.

Larry Carlton's Biography

Richard Skelly [allmusic.com]

Like so many other Los Angeles studio musicians, guitarist and composer Larry Carlton was faced with a choice a number of years back: whether to go solo and develop a name for himself, or to continue the less risky, more lucrative existence of a session guitarist, making good money and recording with prominent musicians. Fortunately for fans of this eclectic guitarist, he chose the former, and has recorded under his own name for Warner Bros., MCA Records, GRP Records, and various other labels since 1978.

Carlton's studio credits from the ''0s and early '80s include work with 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. Among his more notable projects as a session guitarist were Joni Mitchell's critically acclaimed Court and Spark album and Donald Fagen's Nightfly album. For much of the '70s, Carlton was active as a session guitarist, recording on up to 500 albums a year. Although he recorded a number of LPs under his own name as early as 1968's With a Little Help from My Friends (Uni) and 1973's Playing/Singing (Blue Thumb), he didn't land a major-label contract until 1978, when he signed with Warner Bros.

Carlton began taking guitar lessons when he was six. His first professional gig was at a supper club in 1962. After hearing Joe Pass on the radio, he was inspired to play jazz and blues. Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel became important influences soon after he discovered the jazz guitar stylings of Pass. B.B. King and other blues guitarists had an impact on Carlton's style as well. He honed his guitar-playing skills in the clubs and studios of greater Los Angeles while he attended a local junior college and Long Beach State College for a year until the Vietnam War ended. Carlton toured with the Fifth Dimension in 1968 and began doing studio sessions in 1970. His early session work included studio dates with pop musicians like Vikki Carr, Andy Williams, and the Partridge Family.

In 1971, he was asked to join the Crusaders shortly after they'd decided to drop the word "Jazz" from their name, and he remained with the group until 1976. In between tours with the Crusaders, he also did studio session work for hundreds of recordings in every genre. But it was while he with the Crusaders that he developed his signature, highly rhythmic, often bluesy style. His credits include performing on more than 100 gold albums. His theme music credits for TV and films include Against All Odds, Who's the Boss, and the theme for Hill Street Blues. The latter won a Grammy award in 1981 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Carlton delivered his self-titled debut for Warner Bros. in 1978, shortly after he was recognized for his groundbreaking guitar playing on Steely Dan's Royal Scam album. (Carlton contributed the memorable guitar solo on "Kid Charlemagne.'') He released four more albums for Warner Bros., Strikes Twice (1980), Sleepwalk (1981), Eight Times Up (1982), and the Grammy-nominated Friends (1983), before being dropped from the label. He continued studio session work and toured in between, emerging again in 1986 on MCA Records with an all-acoustic album, Discovery, which contained an instrumental remake of Michael McDonald's hit "Minute by Minute." The single won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1987. Carlton's live album Last Nite, released in 1987, got him a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance.

While working on his next album for MCA, On Solid Ground, Carlton was the victim of random gun violence, and was shot in the throat by gun-wielding juveniles outside Room 335, his private studio near Burbank, California. The bullet shattered his vocal cords and caused significant nerve trauma, but through intensive therapy and a positive frame of mind, Carlton completed work on On Solid Ground in 1989. He formed Helping Innocent People (HIP), a non-profit group to aid victims of random gun violence.

Despite the tragedy foisted on him in the late '80s after he was shot, with a long period of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Carlton continued his active recording and performing schedule over the next two decades, beginning with a number of albums during the '90s on the GRP label: 1992's Kid Gloves; 1993's Renegade Gentleman; 1995's Larry & Lee (with Lee Ritenour); and 1996's The Gift. Carlton also released the 1995 holiday collection Christmas at My House on MCA. And in 1997 he replaced Lee Ritenour in the popular, contemporary jazz outfit Fourplay, first appearing on the group's 4 album in 1998.

The 2000s found Carlton as active as ever, recording live and in the studio as both leader and collaborator for a variety of labels. Two albums on Warner Bros. began the decade, Fingerprints -- including guest appearances by Michael McDonald, Vince Gill, Kirk Whalum, and Vinnie Colaiuta -- in 2000, and Deep into It in 2001. A popular concert draw in Japan, Carlton could be heard as a collaborator on two live recordings from that island country during the decade, Live in Osaka (with Steve Lukather), issued in 2001 on the Favored Nations label, and Live in Tokyo (with Robben Ford) on 335 Records in 2007.

Meanwhile, his albums as a leader continued, with Sapphire Blue and Fire Wire released by Bluebird/RCA in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and The Jazz King -- with Carlton leading an all-star band performing music he composed on commission to celebrate the 80th birthday and ascension to the throne of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej -- issued by Sony BMG in 2008. In 2009 Carlton appeared as guest guitarist on selected dates during Steely Dan's U.S. summer tour. Take Your Pick (with Tak Matsumoto) appeared in 2010. Always happy to meet with the press, Carlton has a sweet, peaceful personality, and listeners continue to hear it in his unique rhythmic and warm guitar chords and ringing guitar tones. Carlton was featured on and produced vocalist Michele Pillar's holiday album, I Hear Angels Calling, in 2011. Also appearing in 2011 was Larry Carlton Plays the Sound of Philadelphia, followed by Four Hands & a Heart, Vol. 1 in 2012.
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