Best Guitar Show Ever?

Maybe.  Quite Maybe.  Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing the Larry Carlton Trio, featuring Robben Ford with Ryan and Jacqueline at the Boulder Theater.  So, in reality, it was a quartet, but I didn’t mind the misnomer.  One extra set of hands of guitar awesomeness is fine by me.

For those of you unfamiliar with Larry Carlton, he is generally regarded as one of the finest session players ever.  His most famous work is probably the guitar solo on Kid Charlemagne, of which Becker and Fagin went through literally a dozen players to try to get someone who could handle the changes.  Many, including Ryan, myself and Steve Lukather think its the best solo of all time.  Rolling Stone magazine rated it as #3 of all time.  (Losers)  

He’s played about every style of music possible with artists such as Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, The Four Tops, and the Partridge Family and it that isn’t impressive enough, he survived a bullet through his neck which shattered his vocal cord and left him for dead by a random act of violence outside his studio years ago. 

The thing with Larry is that you never know what you’ll get in concert.  He can rock, or he can play adult smooth jazz.  Last night, the only thing smooth was the sensitivity and creativity that he brought to every type of genre possible. 

Robben Ford, his co-conspirator is no slouch, either.  Also, one of the finest ax-men around, he has worked with Miles Davis, Gregg Allman, Chick Corea and Phil Lesh.  He’s a great blues man and can sing, too.

Together with an awesome rhythm section of Travis Carlton and Gary Novak (whom I hadn’t heard of before, embarrassingly, but is now on my top 10 list of drummers), Larry and Robben completely blew away the crowd.

I’ve never seen a band with two true lead guitar players who didn’t step on each other, were incredibly tasteful and very sensitive.  While Ryan called the show a “guitargasm” it wasn’t guitar masturbation, rather beautiful, sweet, sexy and rocking.  (Except for two solo-pieces that Larry did that were draw droppingly emotional).

At one point in the show, Robben broke into solo licks and dared Larry to try to mimic him. Robben did not take it easy on Larry, but Larry followed him – note per note. Wow.

Also, we learned half-way through the show that the group had just come together for the show last night.  They aren’t even on tour!  (So, no, you can’t go see them).  After we heard that, Ryan and I realized how far we are down on the musical ladder.

A great, great show.  If you ever see Larry and Robben on the same bill together, run, don’t walk to get tickets.  I’m still smiling from last night. 

  • As a former drummer, you should check out Gary Novak on this jazz fusion remake of Tom Sawyer by Sun Dogs.http://www.noisyplanet.net/artists/artist.aspx?ar

  • That’s awesome.  I’ve never heard that.  Wonderful.  Thank you very much for pointing the way…

  • John

    I remember hearing that Robben was going to be at that show… I'm very sorry that I missed it. The fusion band, the Yellow Jackets, actually started as a backing band for Robben Ford. If you want to hear some pretty amazing playing, before he became a lot more bluesy it's worth checking out their first album (self-titled). Excellent writing, great arranging and fabulous solos all around-one of my all-time favorite albums (even if it is kind of in an early 80s fusion vein).

  • I’ve only known the Yellowjackets after they went all adult contempo fusion, so definitely will check out.  Thanks.

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