Collaboration is a smooth jazz studio album by George Benson & Earl Klugh released in 1987. The album was certified gold in the United States in February 1988.
Keyboardist Bob James and acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh struck gold with this session, recently reissued on CD. The formula hasn't changed much in succeeding years. Both Klugh and James are capable musicians; they demonstrated on this collection of light, innocuous melodies and occasionally interesting backbeats a high degree of professionalism. Klugh is a first-rate guitarist whose solos are concise and nicely delivered, but frequently sound thin. James' piano and electric keyboard playing is a puzzling combination of flawlessness and lifelessness.
This album has been a personal favorite since 1992 and I love it more everytime I experience it again. If you can appreciate this type of music in the first place you're going to have a wonderful time hanging out with Bob, Earl and the rest of the crew.
Hot on the heels of his commercial breakthrough Touchdown, which contained the monster hit "Angela (Theme from Taxi)," Bob James teamed up with acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh for the first of two hit duet albums. One on One is not strictly a duet side, however. The pair is accompanied by a band of crack studio types that includes James' former CTI mates acoustic bassist Ron Carter and drummer Harvey Mason and a host of others as well as string and woodwinds sections. The fare is light, breezy, and barely there in places. Out of these sessions came "The Afterglow," which lit up the charts right after "Angela" did, making James the hottest jazz commodity on the scene.
Earl Klugh's debut album in 1976 launched two careers: Klugh's and the production team of Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen. With subtle funk of Grusin, Lee Ritenour and Harvey Mason under him, Klugh's impeccable acoustic guitar took flight. Material ranges from originals by Klugh and Grusin to pop tunes like "Laughter In The Rain" to Bill Evans's "Waltz For Debby." This title is newly remastered, the album now includes three bonus tracks made in 1977.
Earl Klugh's music is as refreshing as a cool breeze on a muggy summer day. This set produced by Klugh and co-produced by Roland Wilson displays Earl's guitar virtuosity and his composing skills. A grand orchestra used on some cuts never overshadows the tight rhythm section comprising various players, with Phil Upchurch and Greg Phillingames being the most prominent.
As is usual with Earl Klugh's recordings, Journey features the guitarist's pretty tone on melodic and lightly funky material. His backup band sounds very anonymous and none of his sidemen display an original personality. However Klugh's musicians do their job well, providing a safe background for the guitarist as he interprets ten of his original melodies. Earl Klugh collectors will most likely enjoy this effort due to his sound and the peaceful vibes, but those who prefer more adventurous music will not be converted.
Earl Klugh's long-awaited solo album showcased his pretty sound on the acoustic guitar, giving two- to three-minute melodic readings of superior standards. Some of the pieces (notably, "I'm Confessin'") found Klugh playing a relaxed stride similar to some of the guitarists of the '30s.
Mosaic Records, known for its historic compilations of Blue Note recordings in either box sets or the Mosaic Select series, introduces its Contemporary line with this reissue of Earl Klugh's 1985 recording. At the least, it is a curious anomaly to all the label's other packages. At best, fans of Klugh will be happy to revisit tunes they may have only owned on vinyl. It's primarily the same syrupy orchestrations by Don Sebesky, the same lugubrious after-hours tempos, and Klugh's laid-back, mostly acoustic guitar framing movie themes, ballads, and an occasional standard. The solo acoustic takes of the swing evergreen "Ain't Misbehavin'" and an always bluesy "See See Rider" are still the standout cuts, flute beautifully leads and identifies the wondrous, poignant "Nature Boy" and "A Certain Smile," while oboe fronts the "Theme from Picnic."