Earl Klugh Hand Picked
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- Released: July 30, 2013
- Originally Released: 2013
- Label: Telarc
- 2.Lullaby of Birdland
- 3.Blue Moon
- 4.In Six
- 5.Cast Your Fate To the Wind
- 6.Hotel California
- 7.More and More Amor
- 8.`Round Midnight
- 9.But Beautiful
- 10.All I Have To Do is Dream
- 11.Going Out of My Head
- 12.If I Fell
- 13.Where the Wind Takes Me
- 14.Morning Rain
- 15.Love is a Many Splendored Thing
- 16.This Time
Personnel: Earl Klugh (guitar).
Audio Mixer: Bert Elliott.
Recording information: "The House" Studios, Nashville, TN; Flora Recording And Playback, Protland, OR; Record Plant. Hollywood, CA; Studio 861, Atlanta, GA.
Photographer: Vii Tanner.
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. ~ Thom Jurek
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