Album review: Larry Carlton, Friends (1983)


By Steve Newton

One of the reigning monarchs of L.A. session guitarists, Larry Carlton has played with some of the best in the world. And now, on his third self-produced LP Friends, he’s gathered some of the best in the world to play with him.

Bassist Abe Laboriel and drummer Jeff Porcaro are the rhythm section on all eight of the album’s tunes, and such luminous players as saxman Michael Brecker and pianist Joe Sample sit in on six of them.

Blues legend B.B. King supplies some lovely lead on a duet he wrote with Carlton, “Blues for T.J.”, and the man with the one-of-a-kind voice, Al Jarreau, does a vocal scat on a jazzed-up version of the old Ventures tune “Tequila.” Ace percussionist Paulinho da Costa adds his silky touch to half of the album’s songs.

Larry Carlton’s self-titled debut album, in 1978, showcased his more flashy rock abilities. Friends, like last year’s Sleepwalk, is more mellow and laid back–but Carlton’s virtuosity still shines bright.

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