The Versatile Larry Carlton

Chances are if you watch TV or listen to the radio, you’ve heard Larry Carlton play guitar.

Carlton penned the theme to Hill Street Blues, Magnum P.I., Who’s the Boss and the soundtrack for the movie Against All Odds.

He was a session guitarist for the Partridge Family, Andy Williams, Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis, Jr., Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Billy Joel, Christopher Cross, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and literally dozens of others. Among his more notable projects as a session guitarist were Joni Mitchell’s critically acclaimed Court and Spark album and of course his work with Steely Dan.

Carlton’s big commercial break was as a session guitarist for Steely Dan, writing and performing the lead guitar line for the tune Kid Charlemagne (and several other songs from the record Royal Scam). He is responsible for several very well known Steely Dan lead guitar lines including, Josie, Don’t Take Me Alive and nearly all the guitar work on Katy Lied, Aja and the previously mentioned Royal Scam).

Carlton has released two Christmas records, Christmas At My House in 1989 and Four Hands and A Heart earlier this year. You could add a third as he was prominently featured on the jazz band Fourplay’s 1999 Christmas release, Snowbound (which is one of my favorite smooth jazz Christmas records).

Only one song from Carlton’s latest Christmas record has made it to youtube — it’s his take on Mel Torme’s The Christmas Song. If you like guitar jazz it’s very good (although it is long and rambles a bit).

I’ll feature three Christmas tunes from Larry Carlton tonight (and if you’re curious about his work, make sure you click through some of the links provided above).

Angels We Have Heard On High (Fourplay)

Amazing Grace (Fourplay – Live)

The Christmas Song



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