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Earl Klugh 
Blue Note Jazz Club 
New York, NY 
August 14, 2014 

On a pleasant, Thursday evening in mid-August, Grammy Award-winning guitaristEarl Klugh treated the packed and very enthusiastic audience at New York City's Blue Note Jazz Club to a spectacular night of silky smooth jazz. The slightly muggy venue was packed, but not overcrowded. The anticipation was high as Klugh and his quartet started his show (the first of two separately scheduled sets) promptly at 8pm. 

Klugh and his band immediately warmed up the crowd and created a perfect mood with the Latin-influenced "Slow Boat To Rio." At the end of that selection, the legendary jazzman said, "Thank you so much for coming out. We really enjoy it here at the Blue Note. You never know who will stop by. We'd like to keep with the Latin vibe. This one's called 'Midnight in San Juan.'" When the song ended, he then introduced the band, but not before telling what he called "a story of a moment of terror." Klugh motioned toward his bassist (Al Turner) and explained that "Al lost his wedding ring this morning. Don't worry. It was found. He had left it in a taxi." Turner sheepishly chimed in stating, "I was putting on lotion. Now, I feel naked without it." Klugh continued his portion of the story by adding, "Thankfully we averted a disaster and Al will get his ring back when we get back to the hotel." The audience hung onto every word, smiling as the story unfolded and finally clapping while Klugh patted Turner on the shoulder. 

Without missing a beat the band, led by a spoken intro (that sounded like something straight out of Disney's The Lion King), from keyboardist David Lee delivered a muscular take on "Across The Sand." The composition, with its African rhythms was incredible due, in no small part, to the superb craftsmanship of the players melding together to create a virtuoso performance. 

Klugh has the amazing ability to express a range of emotions and moods through his guitar that express much more than any words could ever convey. This was never more evident than on "Before You Go," which Klugh introduced with a simple and very modest statement, "This came along very early in my career. It's a nice song that enabled me to continue with my career." 

Klugh then sat alone (while his band relaxed off to the side) and picked his way through an impressive solo version of "Alfie." Later in the set, Klugh announced that the next offering was one of his "earliest songs. We're going to feature Otis. It's called 'Vonetta'" Ron Otisdelivered a highly syncopated drum solo that afforded Klugh as well as the other members of the band an opportunity to sit, rest and admire the drummer's proficiency. The crowd was appreciative too. They applauded numerous times and erupted when the solo ended and the band rejoined Otis for the song's coda. 

Another highlight was the intricate "Dr. Macumba" from Finger Paintings (Blue Note Records, 1977) which featured Klugh's finger picking guitar. Also of note was Lee's keyboard solo which featured his deep baritone delivering a funky, yet tasty "Bow wow, wow, wow, yippie yo yippie yay" nonsense vocal that brought the crowd toward the edges of delirium. 

When the show came to an end, everyone in attendance knew that the encore would follow in short order (as there was a second set scheduled immediately after at 10 p.m. The encore, the jazz-funk opus "Twinkle" from Crazy For You (Blue Note Records/EMI Distribution, 1981) featured Turner's grooving, in-the-pocket bass. 

What a performance! Klugh's subtle velvet-toned guitar was pure, rich and melodic. The bandleader played with his usual aplomb while allowing each member of the ensemble to showcase his own talents. Klugh, along with Tom Braxton's perfectly timed and inserted flute and saxophone phrases/runs, Turner's thumping bass, Otis' highly syncopated drums, and Lee's funky yet graceful keyboards, played so well of off of each other that at certain times it was difficult to distinguish the individual instruments. The synergistic rhythms and melodies put forth by the group were, in essence, a wall of sound that inundated and swept over the whole of the small room. 

As the show ended, Klugh announced that he and the band would be heading upstairs to the Blue Note merchandise store where he'd be available to meet with audience members who wanted to say hello and would be happy to sign CDs. The line immediately formed through the center of the club around the thin aisle and up the stairs to where the famed musician awaited his public. 

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Zambia Daily Mail

Earl Klugh delivers perfect jazz night  

WHEN it comes to jazz, Earl Klugh ought to be a household name in Zambia, except many will not associate the name with the tunes they hear almost daily on national radio, in-between programmes and as background music on many radio adverts.

And so when the 62-year-old American jazz legend dropped some familiar tunes at the Jazz Festival on Friday night, it was a wonderful feeling of "I know that tune" that gripped the crowd.


The two-day Jazz Festival, which is sponsored by Stanbic Bank and is in its second year running, was held at the top-deck car park at Levy Park mall and was attended by hundreds of people.

Earl Klugh began his performance with the Brazillian Stomp, a high tempo song that won him a standing ovation. Many more standing ovations were to follow for the Grammy Award winner that night, anyway.

And when he played Across the Sand, the song rang like an anthem. There were screams in the crowd with women mimicking the sound of the lead guitar, which is prominent in the song.


This is one song that has been overplayed on ZNBC radio, yet never lost its fervency.
The five-member band then dropped Jo Anne's Song, The Last Song and Heart String, which proved why this Detroit Michigan-born jazz player is considered as the finest musician.


But it was David Lee Spradley, also known as D. Lee, the keyboard player, who overshadowed everyone on stage with his animated performance.

And he became a darling of the crowd.

"I've been Zambianised and I love it", said Lee, who was born in 1954 in Seoul, Korea.

Not to be outdone, however, was drummer Ron Otis, renowned for his versatility and improvisation. He, too, wowed the crowd with his drumming.

Other star performances of the night were from the Oliver Mtukudzi with his Tuku music. If his music was not entertaining enough, his theatrical dance did the trick and the crowd loved it.


South African sensational trio, Mi Casa, led by J'omething, also put up a splendid show, playing some favourites, including These Streets.

But it was the band's rendition of Brenda Fassie's Vul'ndlela that sent crowds dancing and singing along.

The band closed their performance with its hit song Jika, a danceable tune that sent the crowd dancing.

The night was curtain-raised by local artistes, including Abel Chungu, who was supported by his niece, Tasha. The duo closed their performance with the song Forever, with Tasha perhaps stealing the limelight from her uncle with her soulful voice.

A big public complement from Mi Casa's J'Something drew the 20-year-old to tears.


Earl Klugh closed the night just a few minutes before midnight, and although he did not play The Rainmaker, the heavens did produce a few drops of rain that night.