The highest praise Duke Ellington would offer people he admired was to say that their music was “beyond category” – and, in many ways, that phrase exactly captures the spirit of GRAMMY® Award-winning guitar virtuoso Earl Klugh and his new, largely solo CD, HandPicked on Heads Up (part of the Concord Music Group). HandPicked debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart and was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 56th Annual GRAMMY® Awards. This is a disc that clearly reflects the guitarist’s view that, “Everything has its place. The fun of it is that you are not in a box. Music has no boundaries.”
Since Klugh released his inaugural album in 1976, the Detroit-born master of the acoustic-classical guitar has become one of the most imitated icons of the instrument, issued dozens of discs, 24 of which have been on Billboard’s top-10 list of jazz albums and 6 that made it to the No. 1 slot. During that time, Klugh’s recordings also received 13 GRAMMY® nominations (the latest for HandPicked) – and his collaboration with pianist Bob James, One on One, walked away with the 1980 GRAMMY® Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Raised in the exciting cauldron of Motor City music, Klugh absorbed a wide spectrum of influences from Atkins and Wes Montgomery to Sergio Mendes, Laurindo Almeida and guitar music from Brazil, Argentina and Spain. The pop tunes of Burt Bacharach and the Beatles, as well as The Funk Brothers, Motown’s legendary studio-session band, were also part of the mix, along with the lyrical jazz piano of Bill Evans. “I love the emotions music evokes, and the stories it tells,” he says. “No matter the genre, or style, I can always find something to enjoy.” So forget the labels and just let the emotions flow while enjoying the sounds Klugh has handpicked for this landmark CD.
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