Before he transitioned completely to a solo career, Carlton became one of the most in-demand studio musicians of the past three decades. Carlton's catalog of work includes film soundtracks, television themes and work on more than 100 gold albums.
With more than 3000 studio sessions under his belt by the early 1980s, Carlton had picked up four Granuny nominations. In addition to winning a Grammy (`81) for the theme to "Hill Blues" (a collaboration with Mike Post), he also was voted NARAS's "Most Valuable Player" for three consecutive years. NARAS then named him "Player Emeritus" and retired him from eligibility.
Larry & Lee, Carlton's 1995 collaboration with guitar great Lee Ritenour, garnered him his eighth Grammy nomination. This was followed by The Gift in '96 and Larry Carlton Collection Volume 2 in '97. That same year, his virtuosity and reputation secured him a place in the crumÆtopping award-winning Warner Bros. Records' group Fourplay, when member Lee Ritenour left to head his own label. Carlton doubled the fun by signing to Wamer Jazz as a solo artist at the same time. Since then he has released two albums with Fourplay: 4 in '98 and a refreshingly different Christmas album, Snowbound, in October '99. 1999 also brought Larry Carlton his very own spot on Hollywood's prestigious Rockwalk. On June 3, he was inducted along with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Jimmie Vaughn.
|In a way, this album is long overdue. Fans have gotten used to hearing Carlton play the blues at his shows. In fact, he admits that these performances are a high point as much for him as they are for his audience.|
"It doesn't matter what they've come to hear," he explains. "When I play the blues, that's when I most passionately connect with them and with my guitar."
Sapphire Blue proves the point. Backed by a crisp rhythm section and buoyed by Jim Horn's razor-edged horn arrangements, Carlton stretches out on a set of original, groove-driven tunes with that unique blend of melodic inventiveness, singing tone, and swing that define his style as well as the best elements of playing the blues.