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Larry Carlton: The Gift

Larry Carlton has always had the maddening ability to make the most convoluted, intricate guitar patterns sound easy, so it should come as no surprise that his latest effort, The Gift, (GRP GRD-9854; 56:43) is filled with originals emphasizing his fleet, dextrous fingerwork. Many of the pieces here, like the ethereal “Pammie Dear,” with its cascading opening, find Carlton using his gifts to play with the subtle motion of a melody. This sensitivity is applied on the stately, marching gait of “Goin’ Nowhere,” which recalls Toto’s “Africa,” and the kick-back, bluesy cadence of “Buddy.” A gently rocking, bittersweet read of the Beatles’ “Things We Said Today,” (with Carlton’s wife, Michelle, capably handling a detached alto vocal) is another highlight-especially the guitarist’s change-of-pace, soaring solo. Carlton’s album has its share of breezy, harmless pop-fluffball tunes as well (“Osaka Cool,” “Shop ‘Til You Drop”), which encase his licks in a sugar coating-but the gifts supplied here more than compensate.

Originally Published