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California Guitar Trio - Invitation CD (album) cover


California Guitar Trio

Crossover Prog

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4 stars This is not an essential for a prog rock collection, since it's not prog rock, not even rock at all... The California Guitar Trio are three pupils of Fripp's Guitar Craft. They made a mixture of classical, folk and pop songs with beautiful arrangements for guitar (and some additional string instruments like sticks or touch guitars)... In their second album (or the third, since they'd played in Robert Fripp String Quintet's 'The Bridge Between') Here we have Bach's 'Toccata and Fugue', Shadows' 'Apache', Morricone's 'The Good The Bad and The Ugly' and some wonderful compositions by this excellent trio. If you want some good and quiet moment in your day, just give'em a chance. You won't regret. Check out resent releases with Tony Levin and Pat Masteloto as well. They play some KC stuff and an amazing version of Heart of the Sunrise.
Report this review (#29093)
Posted Sunday, July 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars What do you get when you put together a specialist of classical music, a technical guitarist and an amateur of "surf" music? The answer is: this nice instrumental album. A good mix of classical and modern music played exclusively from a guitar ensemble.

I would say the only weak part of this album is the whole "Train To Lamy" suite - it's a bit too "light" compared to the rest of the album, the only exception being the beautiful reprise cowritten with Ennio Morricone. "Punta Patri" is one of my favorite instrumentals of all time - the sadness of the melody enhanced by some touch guitar brings the emotion to a high level. Bach's "Toccata And Fugue In D Minor" (probably my favorite classical piece) is nicely interpreted - here you can see the great musicianship of those guys - though I still prefer the classical version with organs instead of guitars. "Fratres" is a quiet interlude before the cover of The Shadows' "Apache". "Above The Clouds" and "Prelude Circulation" are classical "Crafty" instrumentals - the first one being mostly emotional and the second one being technical. "The Good The Bad And The Ugly" from Ennio Morricone closes the album with a touch of humour.

Rating: 80/100

Report this review (#71895)
Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't think of a more entertaining guitar album than CGT's "Invitation". If you saw them open for King Crimson on the "Vrooom/Thrak" Tour in '95/'96, then the _live feel_ certainly transcends on this "studio" recording. You can even hear one the guitarists drop a guitar pick on "Train To Lamy Suite"(UNEDITED!). ;-)

"Above The Clouds" is sublime guitar menace with a contribution by Trey Gunn(of King Crimson) on Chapman Stick providing many colours. "Apache" is another highlight, and "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" has been turned into _high art_ here(for lack of a better term). You won't find a better version for three guitars on Bach's "Toccata And Fugue In D Minor".

In conclusion, I generally can't sit through an entire guitar album without falling asleep(with the exception of Sonny Sharrock's "Guitar"...errr, for obvious reasons!). :-) For that reason alone, CGT's "Invitation" gets five stars.

Report this review (#151153)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Invitation continues the style that was initially set on the band's debut album Yamanishi Blues but this time with even more enthusiasm and added improvements to the band's general direction.

Even though the first section of the album opening track Train To Lamy Suite (Parts 1-3) features some electric guitar arrangements, the band soon returns to their more familiar setting of contemporary and classic acoustic guitar music. Just like it's predecessor, the music on Invitation is very soothing and some listeners might surely question the collective's progressive rock merits. There is a definite spirit of prog in this music but you'll have to look beyond the initial sounds of soft acoustic music in order to uncover it. Observe how these compositions unfold themselves, like the very subtle intro section of Fratres which brings a totally new aura to the minimalistic style of Arvo Pärt's original work. Or how about the unique new take on the main theme from The Good The Bad And The Ugly by Ennio Morricone?

It's clear that California Guitar Trio have found a way to keep my interest with their music for longer time spans than what they achieved on their debut album, but just like with any collection of unrelated compositions this release is still far from perfect. Some compositions work nicely in their new arrangements while others, like the well known instrumental Apache, written by Jerry Lordan, just sounds very generic to my ears and I hesitate to see anything special in this performance. I'm also not that fond of the short Train To Lamy interludes since they don't really add anything worth a while to my overall experience of this album.

There's really no denying that when this album works, it works almost on every level. Unfortunately I still find this album laking in some of the most basic fields like the ability to unite the different compositions, that are offered on this album, into a complete experience that would make me feel like I've just experienced something extraordinary Invitation is a good record but I'll leave it at that.

***** star songs: Fratres (6:28)

**** star songs: Train To Lamy Suite (Parts 1-3) (4:23) Punta Patri (4:19) Toccata And Fugue In D Minor (7:51) Above The Clouds (5:30) Prelude Circulation (2:44) The Good The Bad And The Ugly (2:36)

*** star songs: Train To Lamy Part 4 (0:27) Apache (3:00) Train To Lamy Part 5 (2:04) Train To Lamy Part 3 (Reprise) (1:24)

Report this review (#300684)
Posted Monday, September 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars The California Guitar Trio consists of (like the name suggests) three former members of Robert Fripp's group of Crafty Guitarists, but (not like the name suggests) none of them are from California. There style of playing uses Fripp's New Standard Tuning which is an alternative tuning for guitars that changes the strings to perfect fifth intervals and thirds. This actually allows guitarists to have a wider range and makes it possible to play works which were previously impossible because of the extreme high or low notes, mostly classical pieces written for piano or other keyboard instruments.

This trio uses Fripp's methods, but do it in more of an accessible fashion than Fripp or the Crafty Guitarists did, thus attempting to reach a wider audience. The fact that the tracks on the album are quite varied in style, the album's purpose was to reach as many listeners as possible. But, I enjoy every track here and the fact that there is a variation of style keeps the album from getting stale or boring. The original pieces in my opinion are the best ones, but the covers are quite interesting and impressive also.

This album is great in that it offers quite a wide variety of songs, some original and some covers, and it shows the versatility of these players, but also shows the capacity of the tuning practice that Fripp used quite extensively, even in King Crimson. The first track, "Train to Lemy Pts. 1 - 3, starts out using electric guitar and it throws one off kilter a bit until the melody gets going and your ears adjust. As it flows into the 2nd part, you get more of a feel of what most of the album will be like, more of an acoustic endeavor, but not completely. All 3 parts are quite different and immediately you see the versatility of these amazing musicians. The next track is another original and combines the tuning technique with a sound scape background quite similar to Frippertronics, but more drone sounding. It is quite an amazing piece and very progressive. The next track is the famous Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor which is traditionally played by an organ. It's pretty amazing that the composition can be played on guitars with the tuning method, but the impact of the work is not as impressive or emotional as the organ. It's still quite amazing though. Continuing on, the next track is a composition from avant garde minimalist composer Part and the track remains minimalistic, but holds a special beauty and creates quite a nice rendition.

The rest of the album follows in this formula mixing more classics, a popular soundtrack song (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), a surf rock piece (Apache), more original numbers and so on. Some times the songs work beautifully and other times they are still good, but somewhat standard. Again, my favorites are the originals, but it's fun to hear the covers also to keep things varied and interesting.

This album runs the gamut of many styles and showcases the talents of the instrumentalists and also the genius of Fripp. The orginal compositions get 5 stars, and the covers get 4 to 4.5, but I'll give the album 4 stars because, except for a few tracks, it is mostly not progressive music. Still, it is highly enjoyable and should be heard by guitarists and enthusiasts everywhere.

Report this review (#1430182)
Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2015 | Review Permalink

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