Sunday, January 30, 2011

Music review: California Guitar Trio offers classic diversity at FAU-Jupiter

The California Guitar Trio played FAU’s Jupiter campus Saturday night.

By Bill Meredith

The California Guitar Trio drew a near-capacity crowd to Florida Atlantic University's Lifelong Learning Society Auditorium in Jupiter on Saturday night,‭ ‬and entertained a diverse audience‭ (‬with ages ranging from‭ ‬20s to‭ ‬80s‭) ‬with an equally‭ ‬diverse song list.

But diversity is a natural trait for a trio of acoustic guitarists made up of one American‭ (‬Paul Richards,‭ ‬from Salt Lake City,‭ ‬Utah‭)‬,‭ ‬one Belgian‭ (‬Bert Lams,‭ ‬from Affligem‭) ‬and one native of Japan‭ (‬Hideyo Moriya,‭ ‬from Chiba‭)‬.‭ ‬The three met in England in‭ ‬1987‭ ‬and established the group in Los Angeles in‭ ‬1991,‭ ‬naming themselves after the state where they formed because each figured they might not play together beyond its borders.

That's partly because the CGT formed the antithesis of‭ ‬the standard,‭ ‬stardom-seeking guitarist's mind-set‭ (‬especially in L.A.‭)‬.‭ ‬Each member was talented enough to be a solo artist,‭ ‬yet employed an uncommon mantra of unselfishness,‭ ‬discipline and an open mind toward a more unified musical goal.

Twenty years later,‭ ‬the guitarists are still showcasing these and other lessons learned while meeting through King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp's instructional Guitar Craft courses.

The trio opened the concert with‭ ‬Cathedral Peak,‭ ‬the first track on their latest CD‭ ‬Andromeda,‭ ‬and achieved dramatic and orchestral harp-like tones in‭ ‬5/8‭ ‬time.‭ ‬Moriya‭’‬s‭ ‬Melrose Avenue,‭ ‬from the CGT's‭ ‬1993‭ ‬debut‭ ‬Yamanashi Blues,‭ ‬upped the ante to‭ ‬7/8‭ ‬time and showed both classical and flamenco influences.

Ennio Morricone's theme from the film‭ ‬The Good,‭ ‬the Bad and the Ugly then upped the energy level,‭ ‬as each guitarist played a vital part to the memorable score‭ ‬--‭ ‬Moriya the anchoring bass notes‭; ‬Richards the effects,‭ ‬and Lams the whistling pattern.

‭“‬We‭’‬d like to demonstrate what we call a circulation,‭”‬ Richards said afterward.‭ “‬It's something we learned through Robert Fripp,‭ ‬where‭ ‬30‭ ‬guitarists would sit in a circle,‭ ‬play a single note and pass it on.‭”

The three guitarists first toured together as part of Fripp‭’‬s League of Crafty Guitarists,‭ ‬which is fitting,‭ ‬because they‭’‬re nothing if not crafty.‭ ‬Their featured‭ ‬circulation was on one of Bach‭’‬s lute suites,‭ ‬and their interlocking notes‭ ‬--‭ ‬amazingly simplistic in and of themselves‭ ‬--‭ ‬formed a complex whole that approximated the sound of a lute,‭ ‬the stringed precursor to the guitar.

Most of the pieces,‭ ‬including the Ventures‭’‬ hit‭ ‬Walk,‭ ‬Don‭’‬t Run and Mason‭ ‬Williams‭’‬ Classical Gas,‭ ‬clocked in at under four minutes.‭ ‬But the trio stretched out on an early highlight,‭ ‬the cover of Pink Floyd‭’‬s‭ ‬Echoes.‭ ‬As Moriya held down the bass and rhythm parts,‭ ‬Richards‭' ‬slide playing mimicked David Gilmour's effects-laden intro and middle cries.‭ ‬Lams played the vocal melody,‭ ‬adding flurries of finger-picked notes near the coda of an exhilarating‭ ‬10-minute opus.

Four equally‭ ‬memorable performances closed the show.‭ ‬Chacarera,‭ ‬another original from‭ ‬Andromeda,‭ ‬employed a fast,‭ ‬6/8-timed Argentinian rhythm as the three guitarists played cascading notes that led to Lams‭’‬ unorthodox closing solo.

On‭ ‬Sleepwalk,‭ ‬the‭ ‬1959‭ ‬instrumental hit for Santo‭ & ‬Johnny,‭ ‬Lams handled the bulk of the rhythm guitar and Moriya the bass notes‭ (‬with his thumb‭) ‬as Richards recreated the pedal steel guitar melody with his slide.

Toccata and Fugue in D minor,‭ ‬Bach‭’‬s haunting composition for pipe organ,‭ ‬featured blistering runs by Lams and Moriya within another avalanche of perfectly‭ ‬placed notes‭ ‬--‭ ‬all of which led to an unscripted celebration.

Lams,‭ ‬who lives in Pennsylvania,‭ ‬has in-laws who live in Jupiter,‭ ‬and they surprised the trio with a cake to commemorate the‭ ‬20-year anniversary of its formation in January of‭ ‬1991.‭ ‬The audience sang‭ ‬Happy Anniversary‭; ‬Richards blew out the candles,‭ ‬and he then answered questions on composition,‭ ‬tuning and their guitar brand‭ (‬Breedlove‭)‬.

The encore was Queen's‭ ‬1975‭ ‬hit‭ ‬Bohemian Rhapsody,‭ ‬during which Moriya played the vocal melody,‭ ‬Lams aced Brian May‭’‬s middle solo,‭ ‬and the three players combined to harmonize the tune's symphonic closing runs.

In this trio‭’‬s precise,‭ ‬soulful hands,‭ ‬classic rock never sounded so classical.‭

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“Andromeda” is available in vinyl at