Friday, January 16, 2009


Fire Wire by Larry Carlton
RCA Victor, 2005

Play that funky music, Larry Carlton. Somehow that just doesn’t sound right, but there it is. The master of smooth jazz fusion has gone all funky on us -- or so suggests Carlton’s most recent studio outing, 2005’s energizingly-named Fire Wire.

Carlton, one of a handful of former session players who’ve managed to carve out a niche as pure instrumentalists, writing and playing their own tunes with no apologies offered, is a guy with such instantly recognizable tone that it’s almost startling to realize how many different styles he’s covered in the course of his long career as a solo artist. He’s done straight blues and Southern blues, easy listening / adult contemporary jazz, driving pop-rock with jazz shadings, acoustic fusion and electric fusion, and his natural style draws equally from rock, jazz and blues. Still, his tone and phrasing are so immediately identifiable that whatever style he’s playing in, it always sounds like Larry Carlton – except on Fire Wire, it’s easily the funkiest Larry Carlton we’ve ever heard. >>MORE

Black Milk - Tronic

The Motor City is currently experiencing a regional renaissance, perhaps inspired by the tragic losses of Proof and J Dilla in 2006. With Detroit’s golden child Eminem making a brief but memorable return to rap recently, former Slim Shady co-conspirator Royce Da 5’9” wreaking havoc in the mixtape game and the disciples of Jay Dee making waves throughout the underground scene, Detroit is having its own golden era right now.

Another talent to emerge from that pool is producer Black Milk [click to read]. Perhaps the most directly connected of artists to come from the house of Dilla, the talented beatsmith has drawn comparisons to the late great with his sonic compositions found everywhere, either locally with Slum Village and Guilty Simpson [click to read] or across the country with Lloyd Banks and Bishop Lamont [click to read]. After his debut album Popular Demand last year thrust him into a larger spotlight, Black Milk returns to his solo roots with Tronic. >>MORE

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