Despite his association with George Benson and Chick Corea, Earl Klugh has never considered himself a jazz guitarist. Indeed, he finds being placed in that category both inappropriate and unfair. Listening to him last night at Merriweather Post Pavilion, it was clear that Klugh is, above all, a pop romanticist - and a very good one at that.
If Klugh's ambitions are modest, his technique is anything but. He displayed a highly sophisticated ear for harmony, building each tune on complex chord changes rather than stringing them out on flashy note runs. He also attracted an immaculately clean tone from his amplified acoustic guitar and used it to complement, sometimes to offset, the lush textures developed by his band. Apart from a spirited duet with his rhythm guitarists on "Our Day Will Come," Klugh generally remained faithful to the sweet instrumentals he favors. And within those limited confines, he often excelled.
Tim Eyermann and East Coast Offering preceded Klugh on stage. Everyman is well known to Washingtonians, but several of the pieces he performed from his new album should bring his band a much larger audience. Performing on a half dozen woodwinds and backed by an aggressive rhythm section, Everymann colored his fusion music with sharp tonal contrasts and inviting melodies.