The highest praise Duke Ellington would offer people he admired was to say that their music was “beyond category” – and, in many ways, that phrase exactly captures the spirit of GRAMMY® Award-winning guitar virtuoso Earl Klugh and his new, largely solo CD, HandPicked on Heads Up (part of the Concord Music Group). HandPicked debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart and was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 56th Annual GRAMMY® Awards. This is a disc that clearly reflects the guitarist’s view that, “Everything has its place. The fun of it is that you are not in a box. Music has no boundaries.”
Since Klugh released his inaugural album in 1976, the Detroit-born master of the acoustic-classical guitar has become one of the most imitated icons of the instrument, issued dozens of discs, 24 of which have been on Billboard’s top-10 list of jazz albums and 6 that made it to the No. 1 slot. During that time, Klugh’s recordings also received 13 GRAMMY® nominations (the latest for HandPicked) – and his collaboration with pianist Bob James, One on One, walked away with the 1980 GRAMMY® Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
During the more than three-and-a-half decades since the Earl Klugh album came out on Blue Note, the guitarist’s magic on stage continues to delight audiences across the globe. Whether he is performing in a solo context, with his quartet, with his electric band, with his ‘Little Big Band” or with renowned symphony orchestras, Klugh is a master alchemist, turning nylon strings into pure musical gold. As he notes, “The essential excitement of music-making is renewed in every studio and stage performance. Once I get into the actual song, I try to go back to what made me write the song or decide to perform it. I try to keep myself in an open mind, so I don’t reproduce the record [but instead] create a live performance at that moment. I play it for myself as if it’s the first time I’m doing it.”
Reserved seating tickets start at $32.50