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Earl Klugh: Handpicked

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No one should be surprised if HandPicked becomes one of guitarist Earl Klugh’s most successful recordings, and not merely because it’s mostly a standards collection, which somehow still remains a career tactic capable of boosting album sales.

Unlike some of Klugh’s chart successes over the years, HandPicked aims to please without seeming overtly calculated. Sure, guest appearances by Vince Gill, Bill Frisell and Jake Shimabukuro will help draw some interest and perhaps pique a little curiosity (uke virtuoso Shimabukuro’s nimble showcase is “Hotel California”). But each duet reveals a natural rapport, especially the evocative Klugh-Frisell rendering of “Blue Moon.” You can’t listen to this collaboration, an album highlight, without thinking the two guitarists should share studio time more often.

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