Back in the studio (part 2)

Music

With a second full national lockdown upon us in a few day’s time, we had a very small window to finish the bulk of the tracking for Last One Get The Lights, the in-progress LP from the Nick Gladdish Band. John Timney (drums, engineering and production on this record) and I met at The Space rehearsal studios in Carlisle with some guitars, a laptop, and a sense of urgency which wasn’t entirely helpful…

We managed to get several small bits done in just two hours. These included the few remaining rhythm/textural guitar parts, lead parts and full-on guitar solos over five different tracks. As well as borrowing John’s beautiful 12-string acoustic for a small part in one of the songs, I also used my Artisan lapsteel, Squier Strat and the new custom made Elderwood semi-hollow (read about that one here), all going through my Fender Mustang III amplifier. We might find there’s a few bits which need fixing, but if there is, we’ll have to wait until after lockdown!

Tomorrow, John will record the vocals (and a few other bits) with Nick back at Traxx Studios in North Tyneside (where the main chunk of the LP has been recorded, as documented in part one). Nick has lived with these songs for a most of this year, and in some cases even longer, so should be able to get the vast majority of them down tomorrow.

After that, it’s a case of adding Shannon’s backing vocals remotely, then mixing…

Still, at least we have all of lockdown to do that part!

More updates to follow, as and when they occur. Until then,take care of yourselves out there…

Ten guitarists who influenced my playing, in pictures

Music

This is one of those exercises / challenges which circulates around Facebook from time to time (much like the one which inspired a previous post about ten albums which inspired me). This one asked guitarists to post photographs of ten guitar players who had been the greatest influence on their own playing.

I find these thought exercises difficult – challenging is the perfect word! I feel like I could post forty pictures and still have missed out a key influence on my playing, yet here we are, in no particular order…

What do these players have in common? Some are strikingly different. The key characteristics I gravitate towards in other musicians are…

  • Tasteful or melodic solos
  • Blending of musical genres
  • Dazzling showmanship / inspirational technique

…and all of the guitarists pictured above have one or more of these traits.

As always, these are just my opinions. I may well delve into my influences in more specific areas in a future article. But what are your biggest guitar influences? Get in touch or leave a comment to let me know!

Great Guitarists #1: Earl Klugh

Great Guitarists

In this series, I’ve selected artists who have been both an inspiration and influence on my own guitar playing or musical practice. I’ll try to include a few details about them as well as a track for ‘essential listening’. I hope you get something out of it. Do feel free to comment on my picks for Great Guitarists – perhaps suggest your own! First up…

Earl Klugh

Earl Klugh was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1953, and first picked up the guitar at the age of ten. His early influences included legendary Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida, pioneering jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and Country/crossover star Chet Atkins (with whom he would later record). Many jazz players (including the pianist Bill Evans) as well as an array of Latin and classical players continued to inform the way Klugh developed his guitar technique. Like many Latin-influenced guitarists, Klugh has stuck largely with nylon-strung guitars for his entire career, but his wide mix of influences give him a unique voice of his own.

Klugh made his professional debut on flautist Yusef Lateef’s 1970 album, Suite 16, aged just 15, after Lateef heard him playing in his local music store. Later, Klugh joined the band of the legendary guitarist George Benson. As well as performing guitar live with Benson’s band, Klugh also played on two of his classic jazz albums (before Benson started to focus more on singing & becoming a more commercial star), White Rabbit (1972) & Body Talk (1973).

Releasing his eponymous debut solo album in 1976, Klugh has since released over thirty records, in a variety of formats, including solo, duo and ensembles of various sizes. Over his career, he has received twelve Grammy nominations, winning the award for ‘Best pop instrumental performance’ with 1981’s One On One, recorded with jazz pianist Bob James.

I first discovered Klugh in the late 90’s and often used his composition ‘Kiko’ (from his 1976 album Living Inside Your Love) as a solo guitar piece for auditions. It featured in my repertoire for performances long before I caught the bug for Latin music, and Klugh (along with Santana) were the gateway to discovering the wonderful genres of South America.

As a classically trained guitarist, the sound of Klugh’s instrument felt comfortably familiar, although his main way of plucking the strings (using his thumb in both directions, like Wes Montgomery) was a rather alien concept to start with. Try it though – it’s worth persevering with, as it opens up a whole new, and potentially faster, way of playing the lower strings.

The track featured in this video is ‘Dr Macumba’ from his 1977 album Finger Paintings. It’s a great example of Klugh’s style, opening with a funky latin-infused riff, through to his cloud yet melodic jazz phrasing. Although it appears to start as a fairly small ensemble piece, this tune turns out to be a bigger production than expected, including rather brief string arrangement providing a classic 70’s lift in the middle of the piece!

Dr Macumba’ by Earl Klugh

I thoroughly encourage you to take a look into Klugh’s extensive back catalogue of LPs and concert videos. Even if the Latin stylings aren’t your thing, there’s a lot to be learned about jazz soloing from his playing. As always, let me know what you think, and enjoy the video!