There is so much you can say by keeping things simple, and acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh does so on “HandPicked” (Heads Up), in which he goes through a selection of covers and originals with nothing but his own instrument and a few guests. There is no band or any other form of accompaniment; it is refreshing to hear these songs played in such a stripped-down manner. Sol Lake’s “More and More Amor” is played as a bossa, focusing on the intricate chords of the genre, while Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” is reinvented for the guitar.
Hawaiian ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro guests on the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” and he and Klugh recreate the iconic harmonized guitar solo from the original recording toward the end by trading the parts. Guitarist Bill Frisell breaks the acoustic setting by adding an electric feel to the classic jazz tune “Blue Moon,” where both improvise freely around the melody. Vince Gill appears on the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” contrasting his steel-stringed guitar to Klugh’s nylon strings, and surprises listeners by singing the final lines. Also notable is the beautiful treatment on The Beatles’ “If I Fell.” (Ernest Barteldes)