Notes from Rick Beato’s Larry Carlton Interview

This interview covered Larry’s approach to harmony, how he was influenced by piano players, Steely Dan, and his love of John Coltrane’s music.

Full interview:

Early influences (1:30)

Grew up listening to Doo-wop music in the 50s, then the 60s introduced rock music with Chuck Berry. 

Harmonic discoveries (3:30)

In his teens started listening to jazz and was drawn to the chords.

G 13 flat 9 chord, I’m walking to school one day and thinking about that chord. I realize there is an E triad on top of a G7 chord. That was the beginning for me…”

“Over the years when I would get a sophisticated standard to play on, if it was an altered chord, I was thinking of another chord on top of that chord…”

This is the concept of triads over bass notes that Pat Metheny also discussed.

Piano influences (4:45)

Liked the sound of tight piano voicings from his early days as a guitarist. Eventually the influence started to come out in his playing.

I love the sound of tight voicings on piano…”

Drawing inspiration from piano was something Eric Johnson also raised

The money notes (5:30)

When someone plays Gmaj7, play Dmaj/G to get the “color notes”.

Gmaj7 = G B D F#

Dmaj/G = G D F# A

It was ignorance on my part because I didn’t know anything about scales. It was my own little concept, they play Gmaj7, I think D, it sounds good…”

Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam” (6:10)

Discussion of the solos for “Kid Charlemagne” and “Don’t Take Me Alive”, which Rick argues are two of the greatest solos of all time.

John Coltrane (9:30)

If I get in the mood to put something on in the house, it’s going to be Coltrane, or Albert Collins, things I grew up with that touched me as a young player, relive those moments…”

Favorite Coltrane album: “Ballads” by John Coltrane Quartet

I have tried to inspire young players to listen to the Ballads album by John Coltrane because he only plays the melody…”

Colorful chords (12:00)

Thinking about sound, what color can I add to make it fun, meaning altered chords but not make it so out there that it’s not musical…”

Inspired by the voicings of Jazz guitarist Johnny Smith and Jazz guitarist Barney Kessel.

Producing his solo records (21:30)

The reason I produced myself was I felt I was ready to produce my guitar sounds…just cocky enough and ready to make my statement…”