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Jazz king comes to town

Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand couldn’t have made platinum selling records without the spontaneous melodic genius of session guitarist Larry Carlton.

music Updated: Dec 05, 2010 14:07 IST
Sharin Bhatti

Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand couldn’t have made platinum selling records without the spontaneous melodic genius of session guitarist Larry Carlton. In town to play the Seagram’s 100 Piers Jazz Utsav 2010, Carlton performed a retrospective concert spanning his three-decade-old career, post an extremely jet-lagged arrival in the city.

“I haven’t slept in almost 36 hours. But when you gotta play, you gotta play,” opines Carlton, who played some of his Grammy winning compositions including Jackson’s Off the wall, a cover of Mc Donald’s song Minute by minute, and tracks from his critically-acclaimed 2007 tribute album that he wrote for HM King Bhumibol Aduladej of Thailand called The Jazz King.

“These are songs of the soul. I always write on issues that touch my heart the most. I have always played with and for people who have inspired me the most. At the heart of it, I am a session guitarist. But I am also a musician whose expression lies in pure jazz,” says Carlton.

The musician, who was a fixture at studios in the ‘70s, and is famous for his peerless solos with Steely Dan, has played studio sessions with everyone from hard bop to soft bop musicians. His last album, Take Your Pick, released a few months ago, was recorded in collaboration with famed Japanese musician Tak Matsumoto.

And last year, Carlton returned to touring with Dan. “I love playing live and Dan and I have been very close since the ‘70s when we started touring. He was always a source of inspiration. Last year he asked me to join him on tour like the old times and I couldn’t say no,” says Carlton.

The jazz musician never predicted he would perform in India. But given a chance he’d love to session in with Louiz Banks. “I heard him play and I am impressed. I would love to collaborate with him if the chance ever arises,” he says.