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Album Review: Earl Klugh - "HandPicked"

On HandPicked, Klugh sticks with mainly pop and jazz standards and doesn't fall into the trap of over-arranging tunes to the detriment of melodies.

Earl Klugh
HandPicked
Concord Records

For the last 30-some years, Earl Klugh has been consistently turning out solo guitar albums that showcase not only his nylon-string’s full-bodied tones, but his inventiveness as an arranger. On HandPicked, Klugh sticks with mainly pop and jazz standards and doesn't fall into the trap of over-arranging tunes to the detriment of melodies. He opens with Burt Bacharach's "Alfie," holding true to the original’s melody, but adding his trademark harmonic twists and turns, as well as occasional technical flash.

A few guests join Klugh, the most successful being his duo turn with Bill Frisell on "Blue Moon." Listening to two masters snake their way through the tune while trying to surprise each other is very entertaining. Overall, the album has more of an intimate feel than Klugh's previous solo efforts—you can really hear his fingers on the strings. It’s often hard to tell if he’s improvising or playing a planned-out arrangement, but then again, that's a sign that he's doing something right. —Jason Shadrick

Must-hear track: "Blue Moon"
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