Larry and Robben go way back. They first worked wonderfully together as session guitarists on "Court and Spark" and "Hissing of the Summer Lawns," a couple of Joni Mitchell albums in the early 70's. Carlton was a member of the Crusaders and the original LA Express guitarist. Robben replaced him for the bulk of that band's work. Larry went on to play guitar with Steely Dan and features prominently on the "Royal Scam" and "Aja" albums. Robben went on to play with the Yellowjackets. Eventually, they both focussed on solo careers.
Larry and Robben are very much in the same stylistic bag as guitar players. They play very much the same guitar (Gibson)/amp (Dumble) combo. As such they have very similar tones. So, if you like one of these pickers and don't know the work of the other, you'll definitely like this disc: two mint Dumbles in one disc! In fact, that buyer is me: I'm a big Carlton fan and didn't know that much about Robben Ford. Since this is nominally a Larry Carlton disc, let me start with a review of his playing therein.
It is not an original observation of mine that Larry's jaw dropping solos back in the 70's have devolved to merely great today. I mean no disrespect in saying that: I'll always be a Larry fan. That said, this would be a 5 star disc if Larry had a little more of that 70's complete 335 jazz blues guitar slinger domination. However, every so often Larry clams some notes! The end of the world must be near! I feel badly writing this, but if you are a Larry fan, you should know this up front.
Robben, on the other hand, has gone from very good back in the 70's to a great player. I mean Robben just lays down those righteously tasty altered blues licks! Friendly as Larry and Robben are, when two guitarists get together on the same stage, you can't help but think of it as a "cutting contest." I have to say that in that respect Robben clearly comes out on top. Of course, Larry plays great as well, so ultimately I won because I bought the music! (I take no stars away because of this, by the way. There was no disgrace when Ali, my favorite, lost to Joe Frazier.)
Now, I am not a fan of either man's vocals. Larry stopped doing vocals back in the 70's. Robben, on the other hand, persists. ( Jimmy Vaughan says that a guitar player needs to be able to sing or have a van to carry the gear otherwise they'll get no gigs. So what do I know?) Suffice to say, I'm not a fan of the couple of tracks where Robben sings.
I would take away another star for Robben's singing. However, I have searched for some time for a Robben Ford disc without the singing. Most of what I've found is music that is heavy on fusion. That's ok, but this disc is more in my jazzy blues sweet spot. I'm grateful to be able to hear Robben "shut up and play his guitar" for most of the tracks on this disc. So I'll keep the stars at four.
The bottomline is this: Larry is the jazzy blues Sensei. But at least from a guitar playing standpoint, Robben Ford is the reigning champ. I just wish he'd do more instrumental albums in this style. If he does another Dumble-mint Twins disc (sorry) with L.C., I'm sure I'd enjoy that too.