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HandPicked

Earl Klugh

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Album Review

It's been five years since Earl Klugh issued the smooth chamber group offering The Spice of Life. In the interim, he stayed busy curating his Weekend of Jazz events at the Broadmoor Hotel & Resort in Colorado Springs and the Kiawah Island Golf Resorts in South Carolina, and played the festival circuit, a few choice club gigs, and select concerts. Hand Picked is an abundant 15-track collection, and Klugh's first for Heads Up International. With the exception of three duets, it's a completely solo guitar effort that focuses on a range of covers from jazz, pop, and country as well as four fine originals. The elegant reading of "Alfie" that kicks the set off is followed by a beautiful take on "Blue Moon" with Bill Frisell. The contrast between Klugh's classical guitar and Frisell's electric is rich; together they showcase the harmonic possibilities inside a rather tight lyric arrangement. The solo version of Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" is a fine example of the beauty inherent in Klugh's trademark approach to melody. He never strays far, but brings to light the hidden undertones in a formal structure. "Hotel California," with ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro, features a lovely feint with intro statements from each player; both bring out the Spanish tinge in the lyric and the interplay between them is seamless. Klugh's commitment to jazz is as strong as ever, evidenced by strong versions of "Lullaby of Birdland" and "'Round Midnight," with Klugh's harmonic and silvery rhythmic approaches adventurously investigating the grain in each tune. This is also true in classic pop standards that jazz musicians long ago made their own — "But Beautiful" and "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing." Vince Gill assists on Boudleaux Bryant's classic "All I Have to Do Is Dream." He is a formidable guitarist, playing steel string in contrast to Klugh's nylon string; the rhythmic invention around the central theme is subtle yet sophisticated: these guitars sing together and Gill's brief vocal insert near the end offers a stirring contrast. Two of Klugh's compositions near the end are high points. "Where the Wind Takes Me" melds jazz, classical, Latin, and pop styles in a quiet stunner, while "Morning Rain" walks languidly between jazz, folk, and lyric pop; from here on in, the latter will belong on any best-of from the artist. it's been a long time since we heard Klugh this way, almost totally solo, taking an intimate look at music he loves from across the spectrum. His graceful yet inventive playing, the clean production, and a canny choice of material make Hand Picked one of the finest recordings in his catalog.

Customer Reviews

Another Classic from Mr. Klugh

Earl Klugh should be our musical American ambassador to the rest of the world. His solo guitar work is his greatest contribution in my opinion. The duos featured here are fun. But they are interludes for his masterful solo arrangements. I always look forward to his solo albums and this does not disappoint. Thank you Mr. Klugh!

Amazing

Wow! I have been a huge Earl fan for years, and this may be the best I have ever heard! There a some new sounds in here, along with some traditional music that only Earl can play. The Hotel California was an unexpected surprise, loved it! I hope Earl continues to interpret some musical classics.

Awesome Guitar Work

I'm an Earl Klugh fan! Some people may critique the lack of background musical instruments. As a guitar player, I love hearing the guitar in its raw form. Great job Earl! The Klugh magic still comes through.

Biography

Born: September 16, 1953 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An acoustic guitarist with a very pretty tone, Earl Klugh does not consider himself a jazz player and thinks of Chet Atkins as being his most important influence. Klugh played on a Yusef Lateef album when he was 15 and gained recognition in 1971 for his contributions to George Benson's White Rabbit record. He played regularly with Benson in 1973, was briefly a member of Return to Forever in 1974, and then in the mid-'70s began recording as a leader. After a couple well-received solo albums on different...
Full Bio
HandPicked, Earl Klugh
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