October 22, 2007


Stevie Wonder's 1972 release on Motown records, Talking Book, is a tour de force of soulful, funky keyboard goodness. Released just seven months after the also incredible Music of My Mind this album paved the way for soon-to-follow masterpieces Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life.

On these records, Wonder redefines the role of keyboards in pop music, infusing the compositions with incredible hooks, thoughtful arrangements, and a harmonic sensibility usually reserved for the best jazz releases.

It is no wonder that Pete Huttlinger, the 2000 winner of the National Fingerpick Guitar Championship in Winfield Kansas, chooses to explore his music. The arrangements are so full, so layered, that it seems difficult to imagine how they could translate in a meaningful way to solo guitar. Given the dexterity and rhythmic mastery of Huttlinger, it is precisely this complexity that carries through in his arrangements.

And the hook.

When thinking about Wonder, one can never underestimate the power that the hook can have.

Here's Stevie rocking the clavinet in the studio in 1973:

And here's Pete bringing it all together live at the Ryman:

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