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History: Google Larry Klein and what do you
get - an eclectic, follow-me-if-you-dare/traveling resume of one
of the music world's most coveted, yet, underrated talents. The
in-demand producer's numerous collaborations include one of the
most impressive arrays of jazz legends, rock stalwarts, female ingénues
and revered superstars on record.
Klein is enjoying the best reviews of his career for his production
on the masterful sophmore record of singer/songwriter Madeleine
Peyroux's Careless Love "(This album) is a stunner
raves the Wall Street Journal and it was named to Newsweek's Top
10 Best Albums of 2004. What's even more incredible is the noted
producer is receiving the accolades in the same workman-like quietude
with which he began his career more than three decades ago.
From his earliest
session and touring work with jazz greats such as Freddie Hubbard,
Willie Bobo, Carmen McRae and others, (including a year-long sentence
as in-house bassist on the Merv Griffin show) to room-stopping collaborations
with rock culture icons such as Don Henley (Building The Perfect
Beast), Bob Dylan (Down In The Groove), Joni Mitchell (Grammy winning
Turbulent Indigo, among others) Tracy Chapman (Fast Car), Peter
Gabriel (So), Warren Zevon (My Ride Is Here, among others), to touchstone
soundtrack offerings like Raging Bull and the Allison Anders film
Grace Of My Heart, to acclaimed producing/songwriting forays with
female trailblazers such as Shawn Colvin, Julia Fordham and the
above-mentioned Peyroux, the prolific Klein has consistently proffered
only one mantra: 'It's about the work, stupid.'
Klein grew up
in California, and it was an after-school musical program at U.S.C.
that enabled him to hone his playing and compositional skills with
university professors while still in high school. "I had been
playing the guitar since I was 7, but I soon grew to love the bass.
When I was in my teens I had a teacher who would sneak me into the
old Playboy club in L.A. where I could see greats like Bill Evans.
It was just mind-boggling. I mean I was 16 years old and here were
all my icons playing right in front of me every night."
He began sitting in with various Jazz and Latin groups while still
a college student at Cal State L.A, early breaks that led to nearly
five years of touring with Hall of Fame caliber groundbreakers like
Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson, among others.
But Klein also knew he had other worlds to conquer. It was that
kind of vision that would later cause the legendary Stanley Clarke
to cite Klein in an interview as one of the most admired musicians,
calling him one of the handful of great bass players who have 'moved
beyond the bass.' Klein traces such evolution to his early desire
to broaden his horizons and kick the monotony of constant touring.
an omninivorous appetite for music and despite all these great experiences
with the masters that I was working with, I was also looking to
break out of narrowness of the jazz mold after a while," he
says. Talk about your six degrees of separation, Klein appeared
on a head-turning assortment of records in the mid-70's and early
80's, displaying a tremendous range as he worked with everyone from
Dianne Reeves to Bobby McFerrin, from Robbie Robertson to Neil Diamond.
As Klein recalls, it was the 'Robbie Robertson tributary' that led
to his acclaimed work with the up-and- coming tier of groundbreaking
rock musicians, with Klein appearing on Robertson's first solo project,
1987's Robbie Robertson. He also collaborated with the legendary
songwriter/guitarist, along with his equally brilliant cohorts from
The Band, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel, on the soundtrack of
the historic Martin Scorsese masterpiece, Raging Bull, which kicked
off Klein's growing interest in the production side of making albums.
But it would
be Klein's celebrated collaboration in and out of the studio with
revered singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell that critics viewed as the
nexus of his career. The two fell into couple hood during the making
of 1982's Wild Things Run Fast, becoming husband and wife the same
year, inaugurating a notorious working/romantic relationship the
would endure for more than a decade, and include such monumental
albums as their first joint production, 1985's Dog Eat Dog, and
their Grammy winning swan song, 1994's Turbulent Indigo, a programmatic
suite of songs describing the dissolution of their marriage.
It was during
the mid-80's that Klein's rep also gelled as a genre-defying musical
marksman, with some of rock's biggest names seeking his bass and
his ear, with Klein putting his magical touch to some of the seminal
albums of the decade: Don Henley's Building the Perfect Beast (1984)
featuring his work on the classic single "Boys of Summer",
Peter Gabriel's So (1986), Tracy Chapman's self-titled debut album
with the smash hit "Fast Car" (1988), and many others.
In 1985, Klein knocked off his first solo production credit with
Cars bassist Benjamin Orr's The Lace. In 1988, Joni Mitchell released
the Klein produced Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm, and critics began
recognizing the bassist as multi-talented musician whose true calling
might be behind the knobs.
Next, a fruitful
session with hallowed producer John Robert "Mutt" Lange
during work on Bryan Adams' 1991 release Waking Up The Neighbors,
became a transformational production encounter for Klein. "I
just have tremendous respect for Mutt as a producer; he is incredible
at making the complex sound simple, I learned so much from being
in that studio." He also fondly recalls his sessions with Peter
Gabriel as memorable in both a learning sense and capturing the
essence of a song. He also points to the ten years of sessions with
Joni Mitchell as possibly the best production school one could ever
attend. "She always stressed the importance of having the right
climate and feel to a session. She taught me to always be cognizant
of the emotional sub-text in the room, not to just think about solving
problems. I think that the array of great musicians, songwriters
and artists that I've worked with has provided more of a learning
curve than sitting down and studying any particular technique."
collaborations as a songwriter have also buoyed his reputation as
an inquisitive and reliable songsmith, writing with and for great
talents like Bonnie Raiit - "The Fundamental Things,"
and Warren Zevon - "Genius." Klein also collaborated with
Zevon on much of his universally acclaimed later work.
It was partly
on the strength of Klein's songwriting instincts that a new slew
of debut female singer/songwriters began to seek out his production
skills for their own albums. Critically acclaimed female artists
such as Mary Black (Shine 1997,) and Shawn Colvin (Fat City 1994)
and more recently Julia Fordham (Concrete Love 2002 and That's Life
2004) and most recently, Peyroux, have all tapped into his collaborative
wisdom. In 2004 Klein produced actress/singer Rebecca Pidgeon's
recent effort, Tough On Crime. He also has been the musical director/producer
of the now famed Don Henley hosted benefit concerts for the Walden
Woods Foundation. Klein produced Bjork in a stunning orchestral
version of "Gloomy Sunday" for the female all-star CD
of 20th century standards.
"Somewhere along the line I became known as being supportive
of the female singer songwriter," he laughs. "But all
of the women I've worked with have been so unique in their own way.
Julia has this beautiful kind of blue-eyed soul thing, and Shawn
is a killer talent. Madeleine is one of the most genuine and un-self-conscious
artists that I have ever worked with. The real deal, no artifice."
Klein has also
reunited in the studio recently with his most formidable female
creative partner, Joni Mitchell, with the duo releasing Both Sides
Now in 2000 that recontextualized eight great standards and two
pieces of Mitchell's work for full orchestra. A subsequent double
CD titled, Travelogue, which hit the streets in 2004, also traced
the familiar musical and personal territory of re-setting some of
Mitchell's most sophisticated work.
There is no
denying Klein has unceremoniously arrived as one of only a handful
of session players to blossom into an acclaimed producer. As one
critic recently wrote of Klein's work: "It is a textbook for
songwriters and producers alike on how to make classic sounding
music." With such a rich legacy of musical genius to draw from,
it isn't surprising that the forward thinking Klein has a wish list
of artists of his own that he wouldn't mind producing down the road:
Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Thom Yorke
of Radiohead, to name a few. Asked to describe what he is drawn
to in an artist, he replies that he is "drawn to voices, both
as singers and writers, that don't connote artifice, ambition or
self-consciousness. To my mind, those are the timeless diamonds."
record I've produced has been such an rewarding experience,"
he says. "I always try to bring a new palette to every artist
that I'm working with, and at the end of the day I'm always amazed
at the sense of fulfillment I walk away with and by the kind of
stretch we make together."
the works, are projects with Grammy award-winning musician and founding
member of the seminal group Steely Dan, Walter Becker for his solo
record due out in Spring 08'. Klein is co-writing and co-producing
with Becker. He is also putting the finishing touches on music for
two phenomenal films. The first is a biopic of overlooked, but versatile
guitarist Hank Garland. The independent film portrays the turbulent
life of the man who played on classic recordings for Patsy Cline,
Kitty Wells, Eddie Arnold, among others and will feature newly recorded
tracks sung by George Jones and Shawn Colvin. The second film, titled
"Lucky You" is set in the world of Las Vegas poker starring
Robert Duvall and Drew Barrymore and directed by Academy Award-winner
Curtis Hanson. Madeleine Peyroux will make her screen debut appropriately
as a lounge singer. Klein is also producing a track for the forthcoming
Joni Mitchell tribute project on Warner Bros. Records. He will be
working with Sheryl Crow on the early Joni classic "For Free."
Klein, having completed many other projects, including Vienna Teng's
"Dreaming Through The Noise" for Rounder Records, and
Till Bronner's "Oceana", continues to have an eclectic
and productive year, having finished Luciana Souza's "The New
Bossa Nova" (released Aug. 21) and Herbie Hancock's "River:
The Joni Letters" (featuring Norah Jones, Leonard Cohen, Tina
Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Joni Mitchell and Luciana Souza, as
well as jazz icons Wayne Shorter and Dave Holland) for Verve Records
(released Sept. 25). Klein will start work on a record with new
artist Melody Gardot in November for Universal Records, and is working
on songs featuring Rebecca Pidgeon for David Mamet's new film for
Sony Classics titled "Redbelt".
Larry Klein at studioexpresso or call 818-990-3031
copyright 2007 studioexpresso