Guitar Trios fuse styles in skillful show

On Saturday Nov. 12 the California and Montreal Guitar Trios performed in Wadsworth Auditorium as part of the Limelight & Accents performing arts series.

Sébastien Dufour, Marc Morin and Glenn Lévesque founded the Montreal Guitar Trio over 13 years ago, and recently finished recording their latest album Cambria in Montreal. Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya founded the California Guitar Trio in Los Angeles in 1991.

MG3 opened the performance with "El Paso," a lively western tune that immediately commanded the audience's attention with its extraordinary energy and enthusiasm.

 Next was "The Mexican," a piece heavy with Latino influence. MG3's showmanship became evident as the members began to use their guitars as drums to emit sounds indistinguishable from that of an actual percussive instrument. The performers' chants and hollers further enhanced the Mexican feel of the piece.

MG3's last song "Garam Masala," written by Dufour, took the method of guitar drumming introduced in "The Mexican" to a new level. By the end of the song Dufour had his guitar on his lap, wailing on the instrument to produce a thunderous sound reminiscent of the finale of a firework show.

CGT then came onstage to play a four-song set in a style that was completely different from MG3's. While MG3's performance was full of energy and lightning-paced guitar lines, CGT was much more classical, technical and precise. This was most evident in "Toccata and Fugue," a piece originally composed by Johann Sebastian Bach on the organ. Amazingly, CGT was able to replicate the sound of an organ in their performance with three acoustic guitars.

While "Toccata and Fugue" showcased the refined and cultured aspect of CGT, "Sleepwalk" was successful in displaying the California-style sound for which the group is named. From the first notes of the song it was hard not to imagine surfing on the California beaches.

The moment everyone was eagerly awaiting came when both trios stepped on stage to play together. The group began with "Blockhead," a short piece that acclimatized the audience to the new sound of six guitarists playing at once. The six amazing guitarists playing simultaneously created one, full orchestra-like sound.

The super-group then played George Harrison's masterpiece "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," which featured vocals from Lévesque. They gave a unique approach to Harrison's song yet kept close enough to the original to create a perfect balance of new and old.

The highlight of the night was "Breizh Tango," written by Lévesque, as it displayed the individual talent of each guitarist. The quick and energetic playing of the members of MG3 stood in perfect contrast to the structured and technical playing of the members in CGT.

While it was initially disappointing that the two trios did not play together for a longer amount of time, the solo sets that each trio played were necessary in order to appreciate the integration of the two groups in the latter half of the show. In a way, the audience was able to hear three unique bands for the price of one, which was more than enough to thoroughly entertain an attendance.