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California Guitar Trio

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California Guitar Trio California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin & Pat Mastelotto: CG3 + 2 album cover
3.63 | 42 ratings | 9 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Melrose Avenue (2:16)
2. Skyline (4:41)
3. Dancing Anne (3:38)
4. Heart of the Sunrise (7:16)
5. Hanagasa (3:32)
6. Zundoko-Bushi (3:37)
7. Blockhead (3:47)
8. Dance of Maya (7:12)
9. Swampy Space (3:40)
10. Swampy Return (2:10)
11. Train to Lamy (5:11)
12. Eve (4:11)
13. What I Am (6:29)
14. The Chase (7:36)

Total Time 65:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Bert Lams / guitar, tenor guitar
- Hideyo Moriya / guitar, mandocello
- Paul Richards / guitar, slide guitar

- Tony Levin / Chapman Stick, bass
- Pat Mastelotto / drums, e-drums

Releases information

Artwork: Ioannis

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMACD 2043 (2002, US)

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CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin & Pat Mastelotto: CG3 + 2 ratings distribution

(42 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin & Pat Mastelotto: CG3 + 2 reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Muzikman
5 stars How much better can CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO get? Most groups reach a certain point in development then everyone moves on. Not CGT. It seems each time I hear something new by this group of incredibly diverse and talented men I am just awe struck, left with my mouth hanging open. Well, they did it to me again. Tony Levin, the best bass player in the world, is onboard again for another smorgasbord of progressive rock. In addition, Pat Mastelotto is present to do all the tweaking and technical wizardry in the studio. The three members of CGT are quite enough talent by themselves ... then to add more outstanding talent to their already capable repertoire pushes the musical envelope a bit further, sending the entire project into the another musical realm that stands by itself.

The problem for me is I do not know where to start with this CD; the entire performance blew me away! Keep in mind I have a definite fondness for instrumental music, particularly progressive, so please forgive me for being so partial, and having a favorite genre that I like to rant and rave about. Of course, there has to be something legitimate to carry on about, and CGT always gives me enough ammunition.

One of the more captivating tracks is "Heart of the Sunrise." They use the intro to the YES classic "Long Distance Runaround" to open the song then strategically place it at different points to keep you off balance and wondering when its going to pop up again. This group can be masterful in disguising and utilizing other memorable tunes then blending them into their own. I notice that they do it frequently, but not so it is not an original composition, they never fail at improvising, manipulating, and making it their very own. They always sound like a different band on every song, it is really rather astonishing. "Zundoko-Bushi" is another amalgamation of modern day rock. It is a Japanese traditional song with excerpts from the celebrated KING CRIMSON track "21ST Century Schizoid Man." Then they suddenly whisk you off to another time and place thousands of years ago in their version of John McLaughlin's "Dance Of Maya." Their music is truly worldly, and very worthy of that all encompassing reference.

This is yet one more classic progressive rock masterpiece to add to your CGT collection. If you have not started one yet, now would be as good a time as any.

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars In the late Seventies and early Eighties I visited three gigs from the acoustic guitar trio John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola and Paco De Lucia. What a skills and what a tremendous enthousiastic crowd, loaded with 'air-guitar-players'! I remember that one shouted "this is better than f***ing my wife!"... well there's room for discussion about, something for the FORUM?! This intro is the bridge to the music from The California Guitar Trio, a trio with members from Belgium, Japan and the USA. The three musicians met when they toured with Robert Fripp's League Of Crafty Guitarists. They decided to found their own band, take a look at their discography for more details. On this CD the emphasis in not on 'scale- acrobatics' but on variety and creating pleasant atmospheres: a Middle-Eastern climate in "Melrose avenue", a funny and powerful blend of Sixties, guitar rock and King Crimson in "Zundokobushi", blues rock in the vein of the late Rory Gallagher (howling licks) in "Dance of Maya" and a great country/rag part like an acoustic Rory Gallagher in "Train to Lamy". And the Yes cover "Heart of the sunrise" contains some great moments. THESE ARE VERY CRAFTY MUSICIANS WHO CAN WRITE FINE SONGS!!
Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars It's hard to deny the talent and musicianship presented here by CGT; it is razor-precise and an impressive show of dexterity. Equally impressive, is the group's ability to stretch out what might otherwise be purely gimmicky playing into a texturally varied listening experience. The songs are equal parts blistering flourish and controlled atmosphere, with enough different themes and tempos to keep things interesting despite its length (dropping a few tracks wouldn't have been a bad thing, however); the acoustic playing is very expressive as well.

Highly recommended for fans of artsy instrumental albums, but the group's limited instrumentation and timbre puts this album to the realm of "excellant background music" for me.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Proving that guitar can be an instrument of beauty

I was introduced to the California Guitar Trio [CGT] some time ago when I had heard their cover of Classical Gas and ever since then I considered myself a fan despite an extreme lack of hearing or owning any of their material. The time would eventually come when I found myself holding this album in a record store and walking to the front counter, hoping and wishing that the album would not let me down. The first song I heard by them had stuck with me for so many years I was so afraid that I would be disappointed by the album. Being a prog fan as well the notion of the album having fourteen tracks on it was somewhat frightening - with no long suites or songs hitting the 10-minute barrier I was trying my hardest just to get past my worries. Then I played the album for the first time...

...and all my worries melted away.

This album is, simply put, excellent. For those unfamiliar with CGT, the band consists (as the name would so obviously suggest) of three very talented musicians who play - you guessed it - guitar. However, don't drift this way if you're expecting hammering riffs or soaring solos. Indeed, don't come this way if you're expecting post-rock anti-melodies or ambient zone outs. What should you expect then? Be ready for sharp hooks and intricate verses, incredible melodies and even a couple of cover tunes, these guys know how to play the guitars as though they were an entire band. Of course, this time they guy's aren't alone as the name CG3+2 would suggest. This time they're joined by Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto, both of whom have played with the likes of King Crimson (and others of course), and what else would you do with Krimsoners than play a Crimson cover tune? Indeed, they have here... well, almost anyways. One of the biggest standouts on the album is the track Zundoko Bushi which is a mixture of pieces of 21st Century Schizoid Man and a traditional Japanese arrangement which comes off surprisingly well, even when you're very well acquainted with the original Krimson tune.

Although the album is comprised entirely of instrumentals the tracks still work very well together. Surprisingly enough since a lot of albums that attempt this feat wind up sounding like a kind of instrumental goo. Likely what divides the tracks so well is that they each have very distinct verses and choruses, the music not so defined around trying to be complex for the sake of being complex, but rather to play wonderful simple music in a complex way that winds up harmonizing and synchronizing so well that is takes out it's competitors who are trying to be over the top rather easily. Among the tracks there are some beautiful standouts such as the catchy Dancing Anne, the mysterious Blockhead, the well done cover of Yes's Heart Of The Sunrise and the mini-suite Train To Lamy. However, every track is more or less spectacular in its own way.

This is a truly excellent album that would not hinder anyone's prog collection to feature. Anyone who wants to hear some wonderful guitar work and some amazing melodies that snag the ear ought to go buy this one post-hate while others are simply recommended to give it a listen or two... or many. This one's bound to find a soft spot for just about any music lover. 4 flying orange orbs out of 5.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars My biggest issue with this band is that we get three guys all playing acoustic guitars for the most part.Thankfully this one is different as we get Tony Levin guesting on bass and Pat Mastelotto on drums. And this is more electric sounding too making it the best thing that i've heard from this band.

"Melrose Avenue" features those intricate guitar melodies and an Eastern flavour to boot as the drums help out. "Skyline" reminds me of THE TEA PARTY at times. Strummed guitar comes and goes as does those intricate guitar lines. "Dancing Anne" is catchy with acoustic guitars. Synths too after 2 minutes. "Heart Of The Sunrise" is by far the best track because it is a YES cover of course. I miss Anderson's vocals though. "Hanagasa" is again led by a beat as we get intricate guitars. "Zandoko-Bushi" opens with another YES tribute before it changes to a sixties vibe. Interesting.It turns heavy late. "Blockhead" has this tribal-like drumming then it settles with guitars leading. Drums are back as guitars continue.

"Dance Of Maya" is a top three because it's more electric and dynamic. Although I don't like that it changes 3 minutes in regardless of the impressive drum work. "Swampy Place" is bluesy and acoustic. "Swampy Return" has a beat with intricate guitars. "Train To Lamy" has a heavy guitar intro. Nice. It then settles but it's still heavy. Unfortunately it changes 2 minutes in to a country flavour.Yikes. "Eve" is a beautiful song. "What I Am" has these spoken woords as intricate guitars and drums join in. Synths after 5 minutes. "The Chase" opens with atmosphere and a beat. It's heavier after a minute. It then turns lighter after 3 minutes.Some cool guitar expressions 6 1/2 minutes in then it turns haunting. Finally they change things up. I would love to hear them play more music like this but hey it's not their style.

3.5 stars.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Needless to say, these guys aren't actually from California at all, and in fact only one of them is American! They first met at one of Robert Fripp's guitar seminars in 1987 and then toured as part of Fripp's League Of Crafty Guitarists until in 1990 they decided to form their own group. 1991 saw them all living in Los Angeles and they had taken the above name. They soon signed with Fripp's Discipline Global Mobile label and toured extensively, often with King Crimson. This album finds them now signed to Inside Out, and was recorded with Tony Levin on stick/bass and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto.

This album is a long way removed from any guitar histrionics album that I have come across and in many ways is closer to The Guitar Orchestra, who I reviewed some years ago. It displays a mastery of many differing styles of music from staccato and quick, to pieces such as "Swampy Space" which sounds just as the name implies. One interesting number is their cover version of Yes' "Heart Of The Sunrise" which manages to sound respectfully close to the original yet at the same time quite different.

This is an album that will only appeal to a small number as it does require concentrated listening to get the most out of it, but by moving onto Inside Out CGT should find themselves reaching a wider audience. For those who want to hear music played by extremely accomplished musicians.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

Latest members reviews

3 stars The crisp acoustic guitar sound of the opening track is fantastic - the layers fit well on each other, the musicianship is high and the atmosphere is strong. Now it will repeat itself thirteen times! This sort of relative to King Crimson (3 guitar students of Fripp's, plus an ex-member, plus a ... (read more)

Report this review (#122257) | Posted by Shakespeare | Tuesday, May 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The first time i've heard this album, i though that this is unbelievable music and summary of amazing musicianship. But: It started to repeat itself. I can't remember many songs by name, they are so similar. I like Zundoko-bushi and Blockhead. Some poorness in this review comes Levin's bass so ... (read more)

Report this review (#71920) | Posted by Toomio | Wednesday, March 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my favorite album by the California Guitar Trio. This album features two King Crimson members, Pat mastelotto and Tony levin. Along with Robert Fripp's three best guitar students. Anyone who enjoys hearing amazing guitar players should love this album. It is a must have for any seriou ... (read more)

Report this review (#70046) | Posted by | Monday, February 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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