Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Larry Carlton - 1986 "Last Nite"

Last Nite is a live album by Larry Carlton, released in 1986. Recorded at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood, California, Carlton is supported by keyboardist Terry Trotter, bassist Abraham Laboriel, drummer John Robinson, and percussionist Alex Acuña.

This live set is one of Larry Carlton's best recordings because the guitarist stretches himself. Joined by keyboardist Terry Trotter, bassist Abraham Laboriel, drummer John Robinson and percussionist Alex Acuna (and an occasional three-piece horn section), Carlton plays five- to eight-minute versions of four originals (including "The B.P. Blues"), plus Miles Davis's "So What" and "All Blues." Recorded at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood in California, Carlton is heard throughout at his very best, making one wonder why he has recorded so few albums of a similar spontaneous nature in his career.

No disco beats or smooth jazz here, just an extraordinary live performance in a small club. Always loved his work with Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell, and bought The Crusaders' "Those Southern Knights" just so I could repeatedly listen to Larry on "Spiral", but I didn't like his own albums, which are nearly all smooth jazz. For some reason. If you love great guitar playing, you need this.

I've seen Larry Carlton 4 times over the years. He was really 'on' twice and seemed a bit uninterested the other two. This record is definitely Larry on a good night. He gets into one of his patented runs on "Don't Give It Up" that makes you think he could go on forever spitting out clean, melodic lines. And "Last Nite" has a really wild run where he seems to chase down the melody for a good 2 minutes before he finally catches it. My only complaint is the horns that were added later in the studio. It takes away from the live, spontaneous vibe of the tunes. Still, if you only know Larry Carlton from his mellow jazz period this is a great place to get acquainted with his earlier, shall we say, "more energetic" days.

This album is just ridiculously good! No exaggeration full stop. I've had it for years and give it spin on a regular basis. It has a variety of upbeat and slower tunes including the appropriately named "Emotions Wound Us So" which a few reviewers have already mentioned. I'll play it for (often guitar playing) friends and they're left shaking their heads. Truly worth five stars. Give it 3 or 4 listens, you'll realize you've bought a gem. Just don't hesitate before it's not available anymore.

Track listing:

1     So What     7:58
2     Don't Give It Up     5:30
3     The B.P. Blues     7:50
4     All Blues     7:50
5     Last Nite     7:58
6     Emotions Wound Us So     6:17

Personnel:


    Guitar – Larry Carlton
    Bass – Abraham Laboriel
    Drums – John Robinson (2), Rick Marotta (tracks: B1)
    Keyboards – Terry Trotter
    Percussion – Alex Acuna*
    Producer – Larry Carlton
    Saxophone – Marc Russo
    Trumpet – Gary Grant, Jerry Hey 
 

2 comments:

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