Grammy Award winning guitarist Earl Klugh’s music was eagerly anticipated by a packed house at the Blue Note in New York City on July 30. The band consisted of Ron Otis on drums, Al Turner on bass, David Lee on keyboards and Tom Braxton on sax and flute.
Klugh’s credit as a songwriter and composer appears on a wide range of recordings from artists such as Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Mary J. Blige, Kenny Loggins, Al Jarreau and many others. His first appearance on an album was on Yusef Lateef’s 1970 album Suite 16 on Atlantic Records at the age of 16.
The night’s set began with “Brazilian Stomp” from the Collaboration album done with George Benson. He kept the Latin vibe steady with “Midnight in San Juan,” after which Earl introduced the members of the band. The music flowed seamlessly throughout the night, with Earl showing off his finger picking style on the intricate “Dr. Macumba” from Finger Paintings, a 1977 Blue Note Records album.
While each of the musicians had a chance to showcase their talents during the show, David Lee’s keyboard solos in particular delighted the crowd, especially when he used samples of his deep baritone voice saying “Bow wow yippie yo yippie yay”.
The individuals played so well together with Tom Braxton’s well timed flute and saxophone phrases, Al Turner’s thumping bass, Ron Otis’ syncopated drums and David Lee’s funky keyboard style that the music swept over the room and delighted the audience.
At the end the group played “Twinkle” from Crazy For You, after which the audience stood and showed their appreciation for a performance that was rich and melodic.
Photos by Stanley Abraham