Larry Carlton Interview

(Originally aired on March 7, 2013)

Known for his soaring solos and harmonic mastery, Larry Carlton is one of the most recorded guitarists of our time. In the '70s and early '80s, Carlton was a top Los Angeles session guitarist, tracking as many as 500 dates a year with Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, The Crusaders, The Four Tops, Christopher Cross the list goes on and on. Unlike many session players who work in relative anonymity, Carlton was hired specifically because of his distinctive sound. Producers knew his hallmark vibrato and singing tone could made their records and soundtracks memorable. That's Carlton playing guitar on the theme for Hill Street Blues just one of many examples of his magic touch.

In the late '70s, Carlton began releasing albums as a solo artist, and his latest release, the 3-CD set Then & Now, collects 14 of his most popular instrumentals from these classic LPs: 1978's Larry Carlton, 1980's Strikes Twice, and 1982's Sleepwalk. Another disc in the Then & Now set contains an ambitious re-imagining of these same 14 pieces, which Carlton performs with just two guitars acoustic or electric rhythm, plus overdubbed melody and solos. In our exclusive interview, he explains why he returned to these tunes and how he arranged them to reflect his musical development over the last 30 years. Throughout the feature we'll hear selections from this new CD, which is also available as a stand-alone release called Four Hands & a Heart.