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.
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.
Earl Klugh Trio, Vol. 1 gives listeners a rare chance to hear the guitarist playing straight-ahead jazz. Some bebop musicians contend that playing dull background music year after year means you can kiss your bebop chops goodbye, but there's no evidence of that on this rewarding CD. With Klugh sticking to acoustic guitar and employing Ralph Armstrong on upright bass and Gene Dunlap on drums, someone who is best known for recording schlock offers tasteful and lyrical interpretations of such well known standards as "I'll Remember April," "Night and Day" and "One Note Samba." Klugh also excels on "Lonely Girl" (a beautiful but underexposed Neal Hefti piece) and pleasantly surprises by demonstrating that the theme from the '60s sitcom Bewitched and the Aretha Franklin hit "I Say a Little Prayer" (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David) can work in an acoustic bebop setting.