Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Larry Carlton & Paul Brown: Soul Searchin’ (Shanachie)

A review of the guitarists' 10-track album

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Larry Carlton & Paul Brown: Soul Searchin'
The cover of Soul Searchin’ by Larry Carlton & Paul Brown

Larry Carlton’s name should be familiar to anyone who’s paid attention to the credits on album jackets over the past five decades: As a prominent, in-demand session guitarist, his work has appeared on hundreds of key recordings by a lengthy list of headliners including Steely Dan, the Crusaders, Fourplay, Joni Mitchell, and many others. In addition, he’s released a few dozen albums as leader or co-leader. Paul Brown, although not as well-known, is another prolific guitarist, having contributed to dozens of top radio hits, as well as building a reputation for his production and engineering work.

Carlton and Brown have collaborated in the past, and for some time the pair have looked for a window when they could make some new music together. Soul Searchin’, 10 instrumental workouts, is the result. When it cooks, which is about half the time, it really cooks; the rest of the time, the jams lie flat, superb musicianship in search of a spark. “Miles and Miles to Go,” the opening track, falls into the latter category. Carlton and Brown are obviously superb players, and they quickly establish a rapport here; their respective choices as soloists are commendable and the blend is sweet. Their support team, particularly Shane Theriot, who plays both keys and bass on the tune and co-wrote several tracks on the album, is never short on chops. But the easy-gliding piece, along with a handful of others here, never really gets off the ground.

That’s not the problem with “Gone Fishin’,” a tough boogie, or “Keep Truckin’ On,” co-written by Little Feat bassist Kenny Gradney, who also plays on the track. Here and in a few other spots, Carlton and Brown catch a solid groove and work it hard. Soul Searchin’ could have used a little more of that.

Learn more about Soul Searchin’ on Amazon & Apple Music!

JT Album Premiere: Soul Searchin’ by Larry Carlton and Paul Brown

Jeff Tamarkin

Jeff Tamarkin on social media

Jeff Tamarkin is the former editor of Goldmine, CMJ, Relix, and Global Rhythm. As a writer he has contributed to the New York Daily News, JazzTimes, Boston Phoenix, Harp, Mojo, Newsday, Billboard, and many other publications. He is the author of the book Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane and has contributed to The Guinness Companion to Popular Music, All Music Guide, and several other encyclopedias. He has also served as a consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NARAS, National Geographic Online, and Music Club Records.