Smooth Vibes from Mr. 335

P.D. Kelley

On the Indian Summer evening of September 25th I and my fellow fans got to listen to one of the great jazz guitarists, Larry Carlton. As a studio musician of many years, associated with Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell, to name but a few, and a former member of The Crusaders and Fourplay, Carlton can do it all from fusion jazz to soul and rock. Just name it, he’s played it. The first set of the show was mostly fusion jazz with other elements to be sure, but these were longer numbers and featured outstanding performances by his band: son Travis Carlton on bass showed that DNA will tell; keyboardist Mark Stephens was inspired; Gary Novak on drums put on a clinic as to the intricacies of a jazz beat, and Bob Reynolds on tenor sax took things to a rich and bold level. Carlton, playing his Gibson ES 335, made everything seem effortless. His musicianship was a marvel and it is clear why he is a four time Grammy winner. The second set was just as entertaining and Carlton played some crowd favorites to include Steely Dan’s “Josie” and The Doobie Brothers “Minute by Minute”, the theme from Hillstreet Blues as well as a few oldies but goodies from his Crusader days. Of course his signature tune, “Room 335”, brought some juice to the room as well as a soulful rendition of Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life”. The Rogue crowd, as always, showed their appreciation with a boisterous outcry for an encore and Carlton and company obliged with their version of Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk”. A reviewer writing about a show Carlton did last month thought the encore should have been more up tempo. I disagree and anyone from my generation who remembers slow dancing in the gym to this gorgeous number knows that it is a very sweet way to end the night.

Catch you on the flip side…