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Larry Carlton – Photo of The Week

Larry Carlton – Montreux Jazz Festival

Performing live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, July 1997 is this week’s photo of the week. This Grammy winner’s story begins in Southern California where at age six, starts playing guitar. Next, in high school, he receives his calling for Jazz. As a result of hearing “The Gerald Wilson Big Band” album, Moment of Truth. Also, guitarist Joe Pass is a big influence. Later influences include Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, and legendary blues guitarist B.B. King. Likewise, Saxophonist John Coltrane is also a major influence on Carlton, with Coltrane’s 1962 classic Ballads.

A Little Help From My Friends

Furthermore, he garners a lot of attention with his first album, A Little Help From My Friends in 1968. This is where he becomes the jingle king, where he starts performing music for commercials. Mid-season in his second year, he segues into the Musical Director position for “Mrs. Alphabet” an Emmy-nominated children’s show. As a result, this is where he starts showcasing his acting skills performing as the show’s co-star, “Larry Guitar.”

Carlton gains distinction for the unmistakable and often imitated “sweet” sound he delivers with his Gibson ES-335. He also breaks new ground with his new trademark volume pedal technique, that he eloquently displays in his performance. On ­”Crusader One” with legendary jazz/rock group “The Crusaders” in 1971. Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark album, the first record she made with a rhythm section, displays his distinctive Technique – a style Mitchell refers to as “fly fishing.” 

While in the Crusaders, Carlton performs on 13 of their albums, while contributing new material as well. With the big demand on him as a session player he is constantly a feature on every kind of genre. Such as, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Herb Alpert to Quincy Jones, Paul Anka, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia, and Dolly Parton. While still performing 50+ dates with the Crusaders. Making him the most in-demand musician of the past 3 decades.

Studio – Room 355

From his studio 355, it’s during this time that he starts arranging and producing projects for Barbra Streisand, Joan Baez and Larry Gatlin, as well as producing and co-writing the theme for the hit sitcom “Who’s The Boss” and co-writing and arranging the acclaimed movie soundtrack for Against All Odds. Signing with Warner Bros. Records, he records six solo albums. “Mr. 335: Live In Japan”, “Friends” “Eight Times Up”, “Sleep Walk” “Strikes Twice” and ‘Larry Carlton’. around the same time that he starts working the rock supergroup Steely Dan.

In 1985 MCA Master Series approaches him to consider doing an acoustic jazz album. His first release for the new label is “Alone, But Never Alone”, a No. 1 album on the Radio & Records and Billboard Jazz charts. The twelve months of 1987 brought some of the biggest highlights in Carlton’s solo career. In addition to winning the Grammy for “Minute by Minute,” Carlton receives a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Fusion Performance” for his live album “Last Nite”.

Coming off of the success of two acoustic albums and one live album, Carlton is on a hot streak and enters the studio to work on his next project, “On Solid Ground”. The all-electric project that gets a nomination for a Grammy in 1989. “On Solid Ground” releases almost one year after Carlton is brutally shot. In a random act of violence outside his Los Angeles studio.

GRP Records – Renegade Gentlemen

The GRP record label during the time it’s around created a lot of Amazing jazz albums. Plus, they would really showcase their artists by touring, doing festivals and really cool collaborations.  So, that being said, In 1991, Carlton enters the studio to record a blues-based album with John Ferraro, keyboard man Matt Rollings, bassist Michael Rhodes and harmonica player Terry McMillan.

Interruption by the label and consumer demands for another jazz offering, Carlton temporarily shelves what will become “Renegade Gentlemen” and records and releases “Kid Gloves” in ’92. A pop-oriented Jazz collection of lilting acoustic ballads and biting electric workouts, the album marks the first time Carlton includes both acoustic and electric tracks on a single solo project.

In between touring, Carlton resumes work on the bluesy “Renegade Gentlemen”. Taking the original six tracks to Nashville (his first time to record in that city), and joining up once again with Michael Rhodes and Terry McMillan, plus drummer Chris Layton (from Stevie Vaughan’s band Double Trouble) and keyboard wizard Chuck Leavell, where he records four tracks, plus does additional production and mixing on the blues rocker in time for a ’93 release.  Seriously, this is just the overview of his amazing career! To this day he’s still creating and collaborating….

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