MAUI BEAT

Trevor Gor­don Hall strums at McCoy . . . . . . . . . . .

The Maui News - - CONTENTS - JON WOOD­HOUSE mu­sic column jon­woodh@gmail.com

Ac­claimed for his in­tri­cate, melodic play­ing style, gui­tar vir­tu­oso Trevor Gor­don Hall has im­pressed fel­low mu­si­cians in­clud­ing rock leg­end Steve Miller, who per­formed in con­cert with him ear­lier this year.

“I played an all-star lineup gig with Steve Miller, Jorma Kauko­nen (Jef­fer­son Air­plane/Hot Tuna) and John Mayer,” Hall ex­plains. “I was on stage next to Steve Miller play­ing ‘The Joker.’ He turned to me and said, ‘Al­right, kalimba solo.’ I barely pulled it off. Steve has been very sup­port­ive of my mu­sic. It meant the world to me.” Kalimba solo?

Hall is not only an amaz­ing guitarist, he is also adept at play­ing an African fin­ger pi­ano known as a kalimba — both at the same time.

For those not fa­mil­iar with the kalimba, it was fea­tured in the mu­sic of Earth Wind & Fire and has been heard on Maui over the years played by tour­ing African mu­si­cians.

Entranced by the haunt­ing sound, Hall de­cided to de­sign an in­stru­ment com­bin­ing a kalimba and an acous­tic gui­tar, which he calls the “kalim­batar.”

“I’ve al­ways loved metal ring­ing in­stru­ments and I heard some­body play­ing a kalimba at an African Art ex­hibit in Philadel­phia about 10 years ago,” he says. “The sound was huge out of this small tiny box, and that set me down the path of de­sign­ing them my­self and buy­ing dif­fer­ent ones and try­ing to find the best ver­sion I could. With a (luthier) builder in Canada, Shel­don Schwartz, we took a cou­ple of years to fine-tune, try­ing dif­fer­ent metal and wood com­bi­na­tions, so the most re­cent one was quite a project, but it’s work­ing so far.

“I just loved the tone of the kalimba it­self. A lot of the kalimba mu­sic I’d come across is very rhyth­mic. The sound was so in­trigu­ing to me, I wanted to ex­plore what could be done with it melod­i­cally. I looked up the his­tory and, ap­par­ently, when the Por­tuguese ex­plor­ers landed in West Africa in the 1400s they found ver­sions of them in ev­ery vil­lage that were tuned differently, and they were based on what­ever the folk tra­di­tion was in the vil­lage. So I had kind of hopped right into the heart of the tra­di­tion of the kalimba, which is to change it and come up with tun­ing the songs you want to play. I didn’t re­al­ize it, but I was be­ing very rev­er­ent to the spirit of the in­stru­ment.”

How com­pli­cated is it to try and play a kalimba and gui­tar at the same time?

“It is a headache, but it’s worth it,” he re­ports. “It’s def­i­nitely a la­bor of love. I came up with a color-cod­ing sys­tem so I can see where I’m at, but it’s not easy.”

Rated one of the top 30 guitarists in the world un­der 30 years of age by Acous­tic Gui­tar mag­a­zine, Hall has been praised by John Mayer for his, “whole new ap­proach to the in­stru­ment.”

Grammy-win­ning guitarist and Wind­ham Hill Records founder Will Ack­er­man re­ported: “Trevor is one of the few post-Michael Hedges guitarists who has man­aged to in­cor­po­rate that vast repos­i­tory of in­no­va­tion while hav­ing an artis­tic voice strong enough to stead­fastly avoid imi­ta­tion.” Gra­ham Nash is also a fan.

“In the genre of in­trigu­ing guitarist, Trevor re­ally stand out,” Nash praised. “His mu­sic is both sooth­ing and chal­leng­ing.”

Over the years, Hill has taken on the daunt­ing task of adapt­ing some pop­u­lar pieces to the “kalim­batar,” in­clud­ing Claude De­bussy’s fa­mous “Clair de Lune.”

“That took me about three years,” he notes. “I felt like if I could ac­com­plish that on my deathbed, I could go, ‘I did “Clair de Lune” on a kalimba.’ It was quite a project. I wanted to see if it was pos­si­ble. If some­one would’ve ex­plained to me what it would take, I wouldn’t have done it. But af­ter I got into it and started ar­rang­ing and prac­tic­ing it, then I was de­ter­mined to fin­ish it.”

As far as con­tem­po­rary tunes, he’s ar­ranged ver­sions of Cold­play’s “Fix You” and the Bea­tles’ “Come To­gether.”

“I love gui­tar, but I’m just a sucker for a re­ally good song,” he says. “A lot of times, part of my prac­tic­ing is lit­er­ally play­ing melodies that I love to lis­ten to. I’ll come across a song and an ar­range­ment is born. I also did (the Bea­tles’) ‘The Long and Wind­ing Road,’ and I’m do­ing a full kalimba ver­sion of McCart­ney’s ‘I Will.’ I’ll play that one on Maui as well as ‘Come To­gether.’ The Bea­tles in­formed so many of my mu­si­cal de­ci­sions. I al­ways try to pay homage to them.”

Grow­ing up, he was in­flu­enced by his mother’s record col­lec­tion.

“She loved clas­si­cal mu­sic so we had Bach, and she loved Judy Collins and the Bea­tles, but she re­ally loved acous­tic gui­tar mu­sic par­tic­u­larly from Wind­ham Hill, like Michael Hedges and Will Ack­er­man. Those re­ally in­formed a lot of the tex­tures and mood of the mu­sic. It was with me from a young age.”

He cites gui­tar vir­tu­osos

Hedges and Pat Metheny as pri­mary in­flu­ences on his own in­stru­men­tal mu­sic.

“I love Pat Metheny,” he en­thuses. “I got into Pat Metheny later. A teacher in­tro­duced me to Coltrane when I was 14, and I got into all that stuff, and then I got to Pat a cou­ple of years af­ter that. He was like the height of hu­man po­ten­tial. All of it gets thrown into the well that I pull from when I’m writ­ing.”

Of­ten com­pos­ing beau­ti­ful, pas­toral pieces for acous­tic gui­tar, in 2016 he went elec­tric, open­ing up a whole new world re­leas­ing the al­bum “Late Night With Head­phones Vol 1.”

“I hadn’t played elec­tric gui­tar for a cou­ple of years, and I just sat down to see what would hap­pen,” he ex­plains. “I wasn’t ex­pect­ing much. Dif­fer­ent ideas were com­ing out and I could feel a record com­ing on. That project was a break from the acous­tic thing for a lit­tle while. As I ex­plored the elec­tric gui­tar, I dis­cov­ered new shapes and ter­ri­tory, but it still had a sim­i­lar emo­tional feel to me as the acous­tic. I just recorded an­other project with elec­tric gui­tar, and

I’m re­ally en­joy­ing ex­plor­ing that. Hope­fully my fan base is open to that, that it’s not go­ing to be an­other acous­tic and an­other acous­tic. I want to change and con­tinue to ex­plore.”

One of the most sub­lime, dreamy tracks on the al­bum, “Uthaf,” was in­spired by a trip to Ice­land.

“‘Uthaf’ means ocean or sea,” he says. “One day in Ice­land, I had a lay­over af­ter the con­cert, and I got caught in a rain­storm look­ing over the North At­lantic. It felt like be­ing stranded in this undis­cov­ered land­scape look­ing out at the sea. It re­ally in­spired an am­bi­ent, flow­ing feel. The end of the record is about the same mo­ment. ‘Himinn’ is the Ice­landic word for clouds or heav­ens. It re­ally af­fected me. Ev­ery­where I travel gets buried in my sub­con­scious.”

In con­trast, he de­scribes the track “Cere­bral 3.0.” as a mix of Metheney meets Frank Zappa at a Brazil­ian bar­be­cue.

“I came up with this re­ally wacky chord pro­gres­sion, and I was try­ing to find a melody to tie it to­gether,” he says. “It was like weird pro­gres­sions that Zappa would do, but Pat Metheny would say, ‘No, let’s try it to­gether with a melody.’ It’s a re­ally quirky song.”

Mak­ing his Hawaii de­but fol­low­ing a tour in Spain and Por­tu­gal, Hall will likely en­trance his au­di­ences.

“Cre­at­ing a mood is what I love to do,” he says. “It’s my first time, and I hope to come back.”

❇ ❇ ❇

Be­cause of weather con­cerns, the Henry Kapono & Friends con­cert planned for last Sun­day at the Maui Arts & Cul­tural Cen­ter was resched­uled to 5 p.m. Sept. 16. Tick­ets al­ready pur­chased may be used for the new date. Pa­trons who are un­able to at­tend the new date can get a full re­fund by re­turn­ing their tick­ets to the box of­fice. All re­funds must hap­pen prior to the resched­uled con­cert date.

❇ ❇ ❇

As part of its an­nual East Meets West Fes­ti­val, Jazz Maui presents a free First Sun­day Jazz con­cert with Prem Bro­sio from 11 a.m. to noon at the Queen Ka‘ahu­manu Cen­ter in Kahu­lui.

Bro­sio trained as a jazz guitarist in Switzer­land, and earned a bach­e­lor of ed­u­ca­tion de­gree in mu­sic from Univer­sity of Hawaii at Manoa. He teaches choir at Haleakala Wal­dorf School, per­forms around the is­land as a soloist and is a mem­ber of the Chop Suey Jazz Or­ches­tra and Maui Cham­ber Or­ches­tra Cho­rus.

“I en­joy play­ing a num­ber of styles in­clud­ing jazz, blues, clas­si­cal, Hawai­ian and slack key, rock and reg­gae,” he says. “Some of my mu­si­cal in­flu­ences in­clude Wes Mont­gomery, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Beethoven.”

He has re­leased the al­bum “Sa­cred Wilder­ness,” a mix of all orig­i­nal jazz, blues, and fu­sion com­po­si­tions.

For more in­for­ma­tion, call 2833576 or visit www.jazzmaui.org.

Photo cour­tesy the artist

Gui­tar vir­tu­oso Trevor Gor­don Hall per­forms at 7:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day in the McCoy Stu­dio The­ater at the MauiArts & Cul­tural Cen­ter in Kahu­lui. Tick­ets are $42 and$56 (plus ap­pli­ca­ble fees). For tick­ets or more in­for­ma­tion, go to the box of­fice, call 242-7469 or go on­line to www.maui arts.org.

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