Larry Carlton – Brought the right tone to Atelier

Each year as the Printemps musical festival rolls into Luxembourg it brings with it a wealth of talent from world music and jazz. Wednesday night it welcomed legendary jazz guitarist Larry Carlton to den Atelier.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Carlton combined his roots in blues and jazz to become one of the most influential and in demand session guitarists in the industry. He brought his signature warm tone to artists such as Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt. Over this long distinguished career his catalogue of work includes film soundtracks, television themes and work on more than 100 gold records. Not to mention being nominated for a Grammy 19 times, taking away the trophy on 4 occasions.

First up last night was local blues act Kid Colling Cartel who, from the sound of things, have been influenced by the Carlton tone themselves. Having seen Colling play around Luxembourg before it was good to see him now with his full band as they delved into the blues with no restraint. After playing a few tracks from their past EPs, they gave us a taste of things to come with a new track off the forthcoming debut album and if this is anything to go by, the album is sure to enthral all the blues enthusiasts out there. Look out for the album later this year.

Then it was time for Carlton, he took to the stage in rather unassuming manner with just his trusted Gibson ES335 for company. As he got into position front and centre you could hear a pin drop in the venue as the crowd waited with baited breath for that first note and when it sparkled out from the stage you could hear the collective appreciative sigh. His signature tone resonated with the crowd, as anyone who is familiar with his work will know it’s as much how he plays rather than what he plays.

The band followed Carlton to the stage and instantly kicked into the classic smooth jazz timings of “Bubble Shuffle”, it all looked so effortless as they weaved in and out building up the layers before the band made up of Klaus Fischer on bass, Jesse Milliner on keys and Hardy Fischötter on drums would take turns going off on solos themselves.

With over 30 albums of his own material to choose from you never really knew what was coming next, but as soon as the funk bass of Fischer kicked in you knew it was time for “Oui Oui Si” as he led the band with some slap bass before they all joined back in with perfect timing.

The band went from jazz to blues with consummate ease with Carlton still proving that you don’t need a mound of effects pedals to be a great guitarist, just great technique. On “Burnable” they took their turns laying down their own solos and as you can imagine Carlton doesn’t just employ any musician but some of the finest jazz players around, so you get an idea of the quality solos emanating from the stage.

They would finish on the unmistakable “Room 335” which drew cheers of from the crowd, it optimised the smooth jazz we had been treated to all evening with the guitar punctuating every note. This might have been one for the aficionados but sheer technique and rhythm kept the rest of us thoroughly entertained.

23.3.16 – den Atelier


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