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Friday, January 28, 2005
3+2, 1
Listening to:California Guitar Trio, Bohemian Rhapsody
Reading:Magic Seeds
Weather:1, sunny
Gary's new Rosewood Theatre hosted a show for the guitarplayer and mathematical-funk-lover in me last night. The California Guitar Trio + 2 played an amazing eclectic collection of choice arrangements of legit stuff like Bach, progrock classics like Yes and Mahavishnu Orchestra, beautiful melodic and harmonically dense originals, and some crowdpleasing but quality old pop tunes like Ghostriders in the Sky/Riders on the Storm and Bohemian Rhapsody.

The plus 2 of the band is what'll attract the non-guitar player -- Tony Levin and Pat Mastoletto. The great bass player Tony Levin has played on tour and in the studio with most notably King Crimson but many others in progrock and jazz and funk fusion, as well as a smattering of popsters from James Taylor to Peter Frampton. He's known for his Chapman Stick playing, which we didn't get any of last night, but not to worry, it wasn't missed a bit. Oddly, his look reminded me a bit of Freebo, though he's bald, it's the tall mustachiod bassman look I guess, and both started musical life as tuba players. He completely kicked ass in the show, playing fretless most of the night, and putting little drumstick rigs on his right pointer and middle fingers for a great wooden slap with speed.

I have to admit I'd never heard of drummer Mastoletto before, so I googled his ass before the show. Extremely varied drumming background including the expected fusion stuff, but also he was a member of the great pop flash in the pan Mr. Mister (Broken Wings and Kyrie Eleison) and Scandal! After about 3 notes of this show, I thought how could I not have heard of this guy, he's sensationally chopsy and an extremely creative drummer, as well.

I'd have to say the words of the night were complex and accurate. These cats are pretty damn tight, and that takes a lot with the rhythmic complexity and variety of the show. From a calypso in 5 to funk in 20 (6,6,8), to just the tempo and rhythm changes within many of the lenghty and broad individual tunes, it takes a rocksolid inner clock and shitloads of practice together to perform the way those guys did.

The middle guitar player looked a little too much like Dana Carvey, which made me keep wondering if they might pull out Choppin Broccoli. Don't worry, they didn't. And the Japanese guitar player pulls out his instamatic when introduced, and takes a shot of the audience, fuckin hilarious.

The guitars were largely identical small thin hollow-bodied instruments, with both soundhole pickups and transducers, I assume. I couldn't see the name on the headstock, and though it looked like a Martin logo, somehow I doubt that's what they were. They all had excellent sound control, and plenty of signal processor gear on the floor, I couldn't see what they had. Everything came out of those things, straight acoustic almost harpsichord sound in the Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor (the saddest of keys), humbucking blues slide, Frippertronic sustain, new agey reverb, etc.

The drummer had a major electronic brain setup too, I think I saw a regular computer monitor screen, but he played a great deal of good old drumhead, too.

I'd have to say the setlist highlights were Heart of the Sunrise by Yes and Bohemian Rhapsody, complete with audience vocal throughout. But the originals were really compelling, too, I might have to throw down for the new album of the 5.

So it's thumbs up and a seat up front for these guys, I'd gladly pay another $20 to see them. And special thanks to Gary for bringing them to my town.


permalink posted by cat 8:03 AM

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