Live In Tokyo

Larry Carlton / Robben Ford

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Live In Tokyo Review

by Alex Henderson

The history of jazz includes unlikely but successful collaborations as well as examples of people who should have gotten along but didn't. Miles Davis' economy, restraint and understatement were quite a contrast to John Coltrane's lengthy, stream of consciousness solos, and yet, they made great jazz together. Stan Getz and Chet Baker had a lot in common musically and should have collaborated time and time again; however, they couldn't stand one another. And then there are musicians who know they have a lot of musical common ground and act on that knowledge, which is what guitarist Larry Carlton and singer/guitarist Robben Ford do on this live disc (which was recorded in Tokyo, Japan in September 2006). The fact that Carlton and Ford (who knew each other from Tom Scott's L.A. Express back in the mid-'70s) have a lot of common ground does not mean that their guitar playing is identical; Carlton is essentially a jazzman who has been greatly influenced by rock, soul, funk, and blues, while Ford is essentially a bluesman who has been greatly influenced by jazz, rock, soul, and funk. Neither are purists -- Carlton isn't a jazz purist any more than Ford is a blues purist -- and the fact they have eclectic tastes as well as similar tastes makes them logical allies musically. Live in Tokyo cannot be neatly lumped into any one category; jazz, blues, rock, and funk are all part of the musical equation, and Carlton and Ford clearly enjoy a strong rapport on memorable performances such as Carlton's "Burnable" and Ford's "That Road." Ford doesn't do a lot of singing on this 64-minute CD; in fact, "Talk to Your Daughter" is the only vocal offering on a mostly instrumental disc. Live in Tokyo is a rewarding example of what can happen when two musicians who have much in common musically get together.

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