On Handpicked, the script is simple for versatile guitarist Earl Klugh: cover a set of “handpicked” favorites. With tastes varying from “Lullaby of Birdland”, “Hotel California”, and both past and new originals, Handpicked has something for everyone. Eschewing a band, Klugh delivers solo guitar tracks, as well as collaborations with Bill Frisell, Jake Shimabukara and Vince Gill. The results are exceptional and representative of Klugh’s skill.
“Alfie” initiates beautifully, with Klugh conveying emotion with every note played. Vince Guaraldi classic “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” sounds as fresh as ever under Klugh’s gifted fingers. Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” maintains its moodiness, with Klugh’s knack for tempo license and pacing. Two new compositions appear, with “Where The Wind Takes Me” standing out. Ultimately, Handpicked is pleasant showing the total musician flexing his muscles. The bar has long been established for Klugh, but this effort is definitely confirmation of his elite status.