If you think one acoustic guitar is good, there are some musicians who think 2, 3 or 4 is even better. The California Guitar Trio has embraced this concept. As the name suggests, there are three of them, Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya, but despite the name, none of them live in California. They’re graduates of Robert Fripp’s League of Crafty Guitarists and for seventeen years they’ve been making music that sounds like one musician, with 30 fingers. Their new album is a CD of cover tunes called Echoes.
They cover Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Lynard Skynard‘s “Freebird” (probably in response to smart-assed requests from the audience), and something from a guy named Ludwig Van Beethoven.
CGT write some beautiful original tunes, but they’ve always done a lot of covers in their music, creating unlikely adaptations like this for their 3 guitars. They expand a little bit with a few other musicians and really stand out on remakes of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes” and Mike Oldfield‘s “Tubular Bells.”
CGT haven’t been acoustic purists for a while. They amp up their acoustics so they sound like
electrics at times and aren’t wary of using some electronic processing and a few other musicians to obtain the sound they want.
Unlike the California Guitar Trio, David Pritchard actually lives in the Golden State. He started doing the multiple guitar thing just before CGT in 1990 with his album, Air Patterns. Sometimes he plays one guitar. Sometimes he plays five. He’s a jazz guitarist with classical chops composing a lush minimalist music for multiple guitar players, although sometimes they are all named David Pritchard.
On the title track to his new album, Vertical Eden, he overdubs himself playing 5 acoustic guitars. But he brings in four other guitarists when he plays live. Like the California Guitar Trio, he’s expanded his palette on CD with other musicians, but multiple guitars, contrapuntal arrangements and what Guitar Player magazine once called “arpeggios from hell,” remain the cornerstone of his music.
You can get tangled up in strings with David Pritchard’s Vertical Eden and the California Guitar Trio’s Echoes.
John Diliberto July, 2008