A Decade of International Guitar Nights

10 Years of International Guitar Nights

IGN @ Echoes

You can hear an audio podcast of this interview with music

There are a few all acoustic guitar ensembles out there, but the revolving members of International Guitar Night lives up to it’s name with a global cast of players.  Celebrating its 10th year, International Guitar Night is led by Brian Gore. He’s the only constant in a quartet where the other three chairs change each year drawing upon guitarists in the folk, classical and jazz worlds as well as musicians from Africa, South America and across Europe.  The latest edition of the group swung by Echoes earlier this year.

There are some guitarists for whom one guitar isn’t enough.  Brian Gore is one of them.  On his own, he’s a deft finger-style player weaving the intricate paisley dappled melodies and rhythm lines of his own compositions.  Back in 1980 Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco De Lucia, released the albums Friday Night in San Francisco, an all acoustic guitar performance.

Brian Gore:  Well, as a matter of fact I saw that show when they were recording it back when I was about 18 years old. And it definitely left a very strong impression on me.

Twenty years later, Brian Gore realized his ambition of a guitar ensemble, but he took it to global dimensions with a concept called International Guitar Night.

Brian Gore: Well, there’s a lot of great guitar composers out there and there are people from different walks of musical life within guitar. And what we try to do in this show is feature artists that have a music that represents different kinds of cultures within guitar be they stylistic or global in nature, and so that’s why we call it International Guitar Night.

He began putting shows together with groups of four  guitarists beginning with artists like Dusan Bogdanovic from Serbia,  Alex  DeGrassi from California, Italian guitarist Peppino D’Agostino and LA Guitar Quartet member Andrew York.

Brian Gore:  We’ve had players as far-flung from Madagascar, India and of course Europe and Latin America as well as North America.

Sometimes the players don’t speak much English and often, their guitar styles are wildly divergent.  D’Gary is a singer and player from Madagascar who played on the 2008 tour.

Brian Gore: Yeah, D’Gary is very interesting because he’s a folkloric musician but he is so intellectual in his playing and refined in lot of ways and what he’s doing is really difficult to discern. But the collaborations that we did were easier for me because having worked with Pierre Bensusan there’s a lot of African influence in his playing so working with D’Gary wasn’t that hard.

Sometimes, even the guitars are different.  Stephen Bennett plays a harp guitar which has a course of unfretted bass notes in addition to the normal guitar strings.  A member of the 2010 edition of IGN, Itamar Erez is from Israel and he plays a guitar with extra frets.

Itamar Erez: Since I’ve been playing with Omar Faruk I had to change my guitar to be able to play Turkish music and Arabic and since I’m living in the Middle East, I’m living in Israel now, there are all these sounds around me, so the last couple of years I’ve been playing a lot with port atones to imitate the sound of the oud. So I added a couple of extra frets in between the regular frets.

He plucks his instrument getting the effect of an oud.
Extra frets, extra strings and foreign languages don’t deter Brian Gore from finding a unity in this music with International Guitar Night.
Besides Itamar Erez and Stephen Bennett, the 2010 edition of International Guitar Night includes German guitarist Lulo Reinhardt.  Lulo is a descendent of gypsy jazz icon, Django Reinhardt.  He says he picks up a lot of ideas from these very different players.

Lulo Reinhardt:  Yes. I think for me as a gypsy I always steal stuff.
Stephen Bennet:  Give me back my wallet!
Lulo Reinhardt:  Musically.  I steal musical ideas. So, I really like Brian’s finger picking style and so I steal from Itamar, but I can’t play his Arabic notes. Because he has some extra frets on his guitar.

Stephen Bennett is the most veteran of this years group, and he still thinks he’ll pick up some ideas from his IGN bandmates.

Stephen Bennett: I know I’m going to be influenced by this guys by hanging around with them so much. ….Itamar and Lulo both just, … it’s stuff I’ve heard but I’ve never ever played with anybody so it’s just wonderful to try to blend with them as best as I can.

Each of the artists in International Guitar Night have solo albums.  And you can hear the 2010 edition of this band on the album, International Guitar Night IV.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


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