And then there were six Cal­i­for­nia Gui­tar Trio & Mon­treal Gui­tar Trio


Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Paul Wei­de­man

The Cal­i­for­nia Gui­tar Trio ap­par­ently loves Santa Fe. The group has per­formed here 10 times since 1993, in nearly as many venues (in­clud­ing San­tu­ario de Guadalupe, Santa Fe Brew­ing Co., and Gar­rett’s Desert Inn). On Sun­day, Feb. 12, the group teams up with the Mon­treal Gui­tar Trio to play for a larger au­di­ence at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. The six-gui­tar en­sem­ble prom­ises to elec­trify. The CGT has recorded 15 al­bums, in­clud­ing its 1994 de­but Ya­manashi Blues, which fea­tures orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions and ver­sions of sev­eral works by J.S. Bach and of the 1960 Ven­tures hit “Walk, Don’t Run.” Other group fa­vorites over the years in­clude Mod­est Mus­sorgsky, Queen, Dave Brubeck, Sa­muel Bar­ber, Yes, and Eddy Arnold.

Each of the Cal­i­for­nia Gui­tar Trio mem­bers brings a par­tic­u­lar fla­vor to the fu­sion of the three. Bert Lams, from Bel­gium, is a grad­u­ate of the Royal Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic in Brus­sels, and adores the mu­sic of Bach. Paul Richards of Salt Lake City is cen­tered in the world of jazz and rock ’n’ roll. And Tokyo na­tive Hideyo Moriya be­gan his ex­plo­rations riff­ing on the surf-gui­tar style of the Ven­tures. It is note­wor­thy that the three were brought to­gether by King Crim­son gui­tarist Robert Fripp — Moriya, Lams, and Richards met in 1987 in Eng­land, where they had gone to par­tic­i­pate in Fripp’s Gui­tar Craft work­shops.

The trio mem­bers have some­times used ef­fects ped­als and elec­tronic sam­ples, but on their new­est al­bum,

Ko­morebi, they fo­cus on the nat­u­ral sound of the acous­tic gui­tar — specif­i­cally, their Ore­gon-made Breedlove gui­tars. The bright sound of the CGT play­ing steel strings con­trasts with the softer tim­bre of the three mu­si­cians from Mon­treal, who use ny­lon strings on gui­tars made by Bruno Boutin of Ma­gog, Que­bec.

Marc Morin, Glenn Lévesque, and Sébastien Du­four re­turned to their trio’s roots, clas­si­cal Span­ish mu­sic, on their re­cently re­leased sev­enth al­bum. Sim­i­lar to their ear­li­est work to­gether al­most two decades ago, Dan­zas ex­plores fla­menco-tinged songs by Manuel de Falla, Paco de Lucía, and Agustin Bar­rios Man­goré. In con­cert, how­ever, they are just as eclec­tic as the Cal­i­for­nia group. “It’s go­ing be a blend of orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions and mu­sic from all of our in­flu­ences, world mu­sic and re­arrange­ments of rock hits from the Bea­tles and Ra­dio­head and David Bowie, but we do it our way,” Morin said from his home in Mon­treal.

“We’ve been to­gether for al­most 20 years now, and we’re all multi-in­stru­men­tal­ists — and at some point all the in­stru­ments we play, even if it’s not on pur­pose, leak into the trio. We started do­ing some vo­cals maybe 10 years ago, and some­times we use other in­stru­ments, too. I my­self have played a lot of bass gui­tar the last cou­ple of years. and I play the ac­cor­dion. There can also be man­dolin and cha­rango in our trio.”

The six gui­tarists shar­ing the Len­sic stage have known one an­other since 2010. “The gui­tar en­sem­ble world is a small world, so we had heard about each other,” Morin said. “We were happy to fi­nally meet at a mu­sic con­fer­ence and we chat­ted. And just by pure co­in­ci­dence we had booked the same flight, and we talked some more and we thought maybe we should do some­thing to­gether. We didn’t have an idea how long it would last, but it’s been seven years now that we have been tour­ing with them ev­ery year. We re­ally en­joy play­ing to­gether.”

How do the six gui­tarists sep­a­rate their mu­si­cal roles? Morin said it has been a chal­lenge for both groups since the be­gin­ning. “In a gui­tar trio, also, you have to plan those things not to step on each other’s feet. The thing is that both groups had done this work for many, many years be­fore we got to­gether. And even if we didn’t know each other, we all had the same sort of ex­pe­ri­ence — of giv­ing space and plan­ning it out — so mu­si­cally it’s not con­fused. It stays clear, and it en­hances the blend.

“The chem­istry between both groups has been the main rea­son for our longevity. It was the first thing that sur­prised us. In our first re­hearsal in Mon­treal in 2010, we were com­pletely flab­ber­gasted that it worked so well. It was like, What just hap­pened here? We were re­ally ex­cited. It was like hav­ing a new toy.”

Morin em­pha­sized that when the Cal­i­for­nia and Mon­treal trios per­form to­gether, they do so as a unit. Rather than the mem­bers of each trio sit­ting to­gether, they min­gle: It is a sex­tet. He wasn’t pos­i­tive that this sort of sex­tet is unique in the world, men­tion­ing clas­si­cal gui­tar or­ches­tras, in­clud­ing one in Canada that has a dozen mem­bers. And while much of this sex­tet’s ma­te­rial is non­clas­si­cal, there is more of a re­la­tion with the tra­di­tional orchestra than with the jazz combo.

“What we do is not that much im­pro­vised. This con­cert is not a jam at all, but there is a bit of im­pro­vi­sa­tion some­times,” said Morin. In a 2014 in­ter­view, Richards told Pasatiempo that the Cal­i­for­nia Gui­tar Trio’s per­for­mances are less spon­ta­neous than those of jazz groups. “There might be some im­pro­vised so­los here and there, but a lot of the mu­sic is com­posed — though it may have orig­i­nally been based on im­pro­vi­sa­tion.”

Morin con­tin­ued, “The idea is to have all the re­sources of all those play­ers, to have ev­ery player in the right place, and it’s like an orchestra. There are lots of ar­range­ments we work hard on, and if it doesn’t work, we change things. We have more and more orig­i­nal mu­sic for the sex­tet. We’re al­most done record­ing our sec­ond al­bum, which is mostly orig­i­nal mu­sic.”

In Santa Fe, they will play a lot of orig­i­nal mu­sic, pieces that may have had their ge­n­e­sis in ho­tel-room wood­shed­ding on tour, or in more soli­tary sess­sions. “We like to change the ap­proach with writ­ing, just as we like to change the ap­proach in record­ing,” Morin said. “We never record twice the same way. The Mon­treal Gui­tar Trio just re­leased one last week [Dan­zas] that is more a clas­si­cal ap­proach. We like to vary be­cause it brings some­thing fresh in the mu­sic. Af­ter 20 or 25 years, it keeps you alert,” he said, laugh­ing. “It keeps you young.”


▼ Cal­i­for­nia Gui­tar Trio & Mon­treal Gui­tar Trio

▼ 7:30 p.m. Sun­day, Feb. 12

▼ Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 211 W. San Fran­cisco St.

▼ $20-$55; 505-988-1234, www.tick­

The Mon­treal Gui­tar Trio

Cal­i­for­nia Gui­tar Trio

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