Larry Carlton
"Live In Tokyo "
EMI Japan 335 Records

Energy Abounds!, (10/09/07)

What a great concept: pairing these two guitar legends, Larry Carlton and Robben Ford, together for a live album. Not to mention that between the two of them their writing and recording credits (solo and as sidemen) are incredible. Was there ever a doubt that this would be a great recording as both of these graying guitarists sound as fresh and as sparkling as they did when they first hit the music scene back in the 1970s. It's also interesting to note that while Ford has been more of a Bluesman over the last few years, Carlton has gravitated to the Blues only on recent recordings (seek out his 2004 Sapphire Blue, which is an extremely fine Blues instrumental recording).

The operative word for this album is "energy," very high and creative energy. All in all there are eight tracks included, four authored by Carlton, two by Ford, a Gabriel Ford track, and the JB Lenoir and Alexis Atkins tune that Ford made famous all over again back in the 1990s, "Talk to Your Daughter." Both guitarists are on every track and Ford sings on the two closing tunes.

Highlights include the opening track, "That Road," authored by Ford, which is a funky instrumental that simmers and boils and allows the two gifted players to work. They perfectly trade leads to orgasmic delight and it's immediately apparent that this is going to be one heck of a night (and recording). And they were just getting started! Carlton's "Rio Samba" opens showcasing Travis Carlton's funky bass (Larry Carlton's son) and again features Ford and Carlton trading leads. "Two Bad" is a slow Blues that builds to high intensity and I was amazed how well they finished each other's guitar phrases. Ford sings the last two tracks on this fine recording. "Talk to your Daughter," which is a slick romp through the Blues with tons of energy coming from Carlton and Ford's guitars plus strong vocals from Ford. The closing track, "Too Much," is appropriately titled and once again shows off Ford's vocal depth and the two guitarists bump and grind to a dirty, filthy (but clean) climax!

Live in Tokyo clocks in at over sixty-nine minutes, which is pretty chunky, but given the quality of the performance and the clean recorded sound, I could have died and gone to heaven had this been a double-CD set. That being said, Ford told me that there will be a DVD of this performance plus another Carlton/Ford collaboration (recorded in Paris) forthcoming. I can't wait!

Bob Putignano: