John Wheatcroft dusts off his ny­lon-string and shines the spot­light on the acous­tic mas­tery of a phe­nom­e­nal player, the amaz­ing Earl Klugh.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

John Wheatcroft lifts his hat to an awe-in­spir­ing jazz guitarist, the amaz­ing Earl Klugh.

Earl Klugh has one of the most unique and in­stantly recog­nis­able sounds in jazz gui­tar. Syn­ony­mous with the ny­lon-string clas­si­cal (as in­deed was Char­lie Byrd), Earl was in­vited to and spent sev­eral years in Ge­orge Ben­son’s group, start­ing while still in his teens. Then, af­ter a short stint with Chic Corea’s Re­turn To For­ever, Klugh signed a solo deal with Blue Note and re­leased his de­but al­bum, sim­ply ti­tled Earl Klugh, in 1976. Klugh now cel­e­brates over 40 suc­cess­ful years in the mu­sic busi­ness; he’s gone from strength to strength and is sound­ing bet­ter than ever. His tone is warm and bril­liant with a clear ar­tic­u­la­tion, and he ex­pertly bal­ances di­rect and sim­ple lyri­cal melodies with har­mon­i­cally rich and intricate chro­matic vo­cab­u­lary. Klugh’s com­mand of syn­co­pated rhythms, cou­pled with his in­cred­i­ble time and feel is se­cond to none. If you’re a Ben­son fan then you would love Klugh’s play­ing. Make no mis­take though, Earl is his own man and his unique ar­tic­u­la­tion, in­tel­li­gent note se­lec­tion and beau­ti­fully ex­pres­sive tone shine clearly through on ev­ery note he plays. Klugh has a rich port­fo­lio of won­der­ful sound­ing al­bums and he has live dates in the di­ary all over the world in 2018, so I’d re­ally sug­gest try­ing to catch him if pos­si­ble. In the mean­time, there is some amaz­ing archive footage of him on­line, so I’d make sure he’s high on your list of play­ers to check out. There are eight mu­si­cal phrases that fol­low, each il­lus­trat­ing a par­tic­u­lar con­cept, ap­proach or tech­nique that Earl might em­ploy when im­pro­vis­ing against a se­lec­tion of pop­u­lar chord se­quences and vamps. If au­then­tic­ity is your goal then you’ll need a clas­si­cal gui­tar and use thumb and fin­gers through­out, although these ideas would sound great with a pick and you could eas­ily suc­cess­fully trans­fer them to a clean, or even over­driven elec­tric gui­tar tone. How­ever, if you’d usu­ally au­to­mat­i­cally choose to play sin­gle-note line-based ideas with a plec­trum, why not give fin­gers and thumb a try and, nat­u­rally, try to come up with some sim­i­lar ideas of your own. You might be sur­prised at just how dif­fer­ently you play when you adopt a new ap­proach. Mak­ing a change to your play­ing oc­ca­sion­ally is of­ten just what the doc­tor or­dered, when it comes to avoid­ing or get­ting out of ruts, or sim­ply for giv­ing your play­ing some fresh ideas and a new lease of life. Let’s end with some wise words from the man him­self: “A lot of what I do is for fun and I play all kinds of stan­dards and songs away from the mu­sic I write”. As al­ways, en­joy.

I lis­tened to ev­ery­thing I could think of to gain an edge, Be­cause If you don’t stand out you’re stuck Earl Klugh

Earl Klugh: one of the great­est and most unique jazz gui­tarists

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