Earl Klugh: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

By Mike Joyce

Relying on a nylon string acoustic guitar and a nimble fingerstyle technique, Earl Klugh has delighted smooth jazz fans since the mid-70s, wooing them softly with his sparkling tone and melodic tunes--a combination that made for a thoroughly crowd-pleasing concert at the Rams Head Tavern on Sunday evening.

During the all-ages early show, the Grammy winner created a procession of sunny melodies that stretched from his earliest recordings to his latest CD, "The Spice Of Life," and there were long passages during which he managed to sustain his signature brand of lyricism by playing the two highest treble strings almost exclusively. Beginning with "Slow Boat to Rio" and "Kari," festive beats often buoyed the arrangements--and yes, there were moments when Klugh tipped his hat to Wes Montgomery and George Benson by introducing sliding octaves and chordal stabs. But certainly anyone who wanted to hear the Atlanta-based guitarist emphasize his romantic sensibilities while performing contemporary ballads and pop standards didn't go home disappointed.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Fortunately, Klugh is touring with a seasoned trio that enjoys throwing some curves, so the easy-listening arrangements were punctuated by some rhythmically kinetic interludes. Invited to play tunes from their recent solo CDs, drummer Ron Otis and bassist Al Turner embarked on a pair of sharply sycnopated excursions, highlighted by Turner's resounding slap-thumb soloing. Another big plus was presence of keyboardist David Lee, an alum of Parliament-Funkadelic, who moved beyond the smooth jazz grooves and requisite orchestral shadings long enough to indulge in some cartoon-ish, synth-generated funk.

By David Malitz |  July 27, 2009; 11:50 AM ET Live Last Night
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