Windham Hill's eagerness to become one of smooth jazz's top labels has led them to sign a handful of influential masters of the form. They couldn't have placed a surer bet than on Earl Klugh
, whose snappy acoustic style first hit the airwaves in the mid-'70s. While he's experimented a few times in recent years with orchestral projects, his Peculiar Situation
finds him for the most part mining familiar and friendly territory. The sharp crisp melody over a thick, rolling bass groove on the title cut (with the occasional synth flourish at the end of the chorus part) characterizes his overall funk approach, while the graceful high-toned melody that leads "Southern Dog" is classic Klugh
balladry. One of his more unique traits is how he modulates his strings; the melody line on the title track features a high tone, and his solo improvisation delves into the lower registers. Klugh
has long enjoyed sampling the worldbeat experience, getting his fill here with the galloping samba basslines, vibes harmonies, conga line festivity, and call and response African-flavored vocals on "Desert Paradise." Roberta Flack
is on board for his first ever vocal track, her easy honey voice all but melting upon his subtle string harmonies on "Now and Again."