Earl Klugh and his Little Big Band
On a cold evening in Detroit, a 13-year-young EARL KLUGH sat down with his mother to watch the Perry Como Show. Como's special guest that night was Chet Atkins. Klugh was enraptured by the performance, never having witnessed such a display of musical mastery. Little did he imagine that he would someday share the stage with Atkins, let alone find himself in his studio, recording with the legendary figure himself.
That seminal inspiration, melded with other influences like The Beatles and Sergio Mendes, further shaped Klugh's burgeoning musicality; but perhaps more important was the inescapable influence of his hometown, Motown. In those days, the infamous Funk Brothers could be found at Baker's Keyboard Lounge blowing out some serious jazz. And at least one night a week, the teenaged Klugh could be found in the audience. Of the many legends he met or sat in with at Baker's, he went on to work professionally with several, including Chick Corea, joining the lineup of the first incarnation of Corea's band Return to Forever. In 1976, Klugh was signed as a solo artist to Blue Note Records, marking the beginning of a recording career that would include such trendsetting albums as Dream Come True (1980) and his Grammy-winning collaboration with Bob James, One on One (1979), still cited for its astonishing combination of progressive daring and popular accessibility.
Dedicating himself to live performance for a number of years, Klugh delighted audiences the world over. In January 2005, he joined fellow contemporary jazz legends George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Al Jarreau, and Ravi Coltrane on a special American Goodwill tour, and in 2006 he toured Lagos, Nigeria for the 10th annual MUSON Festival. Klugh has been instrumental in the return of jazz to one of the legendary swing era venues, Colorado Springs' Broadmoor Hotel, where he plays host to the "Weekend of Jazz at the Broadmoor," bringing with him the likes of such greats as Joe Sample, Roberta Flack, Patti Austin, and Chris Botti. His Grammy-nominated album, Naked Guitar (2005), marked a return to the studio after a six-year hiatus.
In addition to recording his warm guitar stylings to the tracks of top artists including Jimmy Buffett, Miles Davis, and Stevie Wonder, Klugh has also expanded his horizons as a composer and songwriter. Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, and many others have recorded his music. In film, Klugh's work with composer Patrick Williams can be heard in How to Beat the High Cost of Living, Marvin and Tige, and Just Between Friends.
Klugh enjoys sharing his experience with young musicians and he is pleased to present outstanding young performers in this evening's JVC Jazz set.