band of three guitar players founded in 1991. The three—Paul Richards of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bert Lams of Affligem, Belgium, and Hideyo Moriya of Tokyo, Japan—met at a 1987 Guitar Craft course, in which Robert Fripp instructed them in the New Standard Tuning (NST). After completing several of Fripp's Guitar Craft courses, the three toured as part of Robert Fripp and The League of Crafty Guitarists.
Continuing their collaboration then in Los Angeles, they founded The California Guitar Trio in 1991. They continue to play in the New Standard Tuning. Their performances and recordings include original compositions, surf covers, and classical re-workings of classical music. Their influences include European classical music, rock, blues, jazz, world music, and surf music.
The Trio's music was featured during the television coverage of the 1998 and 2000 Olympic Games,. It has been featured on CBS, NBC, CNN WorldBeat, and ESPN TV programs. They performed on the 2003 Grammy Awards-nominated track "Apollo" on Tony Levin's CD Pieces of the Sun. CGT music served as wake-up music for the crew aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour.
The California Guitar Trio performed as an opening act for King Crimson, from which bassist Tony Levin and drummer Pat Mastelotto regularly join the CGT for live shows. CGT has shared the stage with many performancers, including the following: John McLaughlin, David Sylvian, Tito Puente, Leftover Salmon, Taj Mahal, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Adrian Legg, Adrian Belew, Jon Anderson.
The Trio has released 16 albums: seven studio CDs featuring original
CGT songs and a variety of other works spanning numerous genres, four
live releases, and a Christmas CD with Christmas music. Lams has also
made a solo album of Bach preludes titled Nascent.
In August 2004 they released Whitewater, which was produced by
Tony Levin. It features mainly original works of the CGT, offset by a
puzzle-work arrangement of a Bach lute suite and a mashup of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" with The Doors' "Riders on the Storm." This was followed in 2008 by Echoes, an album composed entirely of covers, and 2010's Andromeda,
the band's first release to consist entirely of original material. The
2012 release Masterworks is an all classical music compilation featuring
music by Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Rossini and Part. Chicago guitar
virtuoso Fareed Haque played on Vivaldi's Winter, and Tony Levin played upright bass and cello on four tracks.
On February 3, 2001, the California Guitar Trio played in Hollywood's
Key Club. Fortunately, they also had the stellar rhythm section of Tony
Levin and Pat Mastelotto to accompany them. The result is a wonderful
effort in exploring the possibilities of a guitar ensemble in both
composition and execution. The album is also an exploration of music in
general - a CGT concert can run the gamut from Queen to Beethoven to
surf music to country, and the band recognizes the power of the music
above all else. As talented as the Trio is, it's even more admirable
that they are willing to take a back seat to the music itself. The
personnel on this album are: Paul Richards, Hideyo Moriya, and Bert
Lams, acoustic guitars; Tony Levin, bass; and Pat Mastelotto, drums and
Since 1998, the California Guitar Trio has regularly toured with expanded versions of the band. The fan favorite is no doubt the quintet form with King Crimson members Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto. A live album, Live at the Key Club, was made available in 2001 through the CGT Direct Collectors' Series. CG3+2 takes the quintet in the studio to record their repertoire. The track list includes a couple new CGT
compositions, jams and studio constructions credited to the whole
group, a few more of those incredible covers the band is known for, and a
few old favorites revisited. Granted, "Melrose Avenue," "Blockhead,"
and "Train to Lamy," all dating back to the trio's first two albums (Yamanashi Blues in 1994; Invitation
in 1995), suffer a bit from overexposure, but having a rhythm section
to back them up is a whole new thing -- "Melrose Avenue" turns into a
splendidly driving album opener. The group compositions, in which
engineer Bill Munyon
also had a word, are not as satisfying as the trio's own songs.
Somewhat looser, they don't pack as much energy or beauty as "Skyline"
and "Eve," the two new pieces co-written by the team of Bert Lams, Paul Richards, and Hideyo Moriya. The highlights are provided by the covers: Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise," the Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Dance of Maya" (did someone mention virtuosity?), and two delightful Japanese traditional tunes rearranged by Moriya -- "Zundoko-Bushi" even includes bits of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Vrooom." CG3+2
is only half new to the fans and constitutes a meager offering
composition-wise. But if the idea of the guitar trio being backed by
such a skilled rhythm section makes you salivate, then by all means grab
it. You won't be disappointed!
It was only a matter of time before the internationally-based California
Guitar Trio's world academia-flavoured approach to creating music with
the acoustic guitar would summon others into their fold. Luckily, they
procured the world's greatest rhythm section - bassist Tony Levin and
acoustic-electric percussion pioneer Pat Mastelotto, who befriended them
while opening up for King Crimson on tour. "Over the years, we've
played with several others on stage - Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn, Bill
Janssen and Jarrod Kaplan," explains guitarist Bert Lams. "We've always
kept our eyes out for opportunities to play with guests to expand our
horizons. We've always wanted to play with a singer and having Tony is
like playing with a voice. He adds an extra dimension to the music we
play. Tony has a unique style; he has acquired freedom on his
instrument, it's an incredible experience to be playing with a musician
of that calibre. Pat adds a lot of power and groove. We actually had
some people in the audience dancing! He also has tremendous musical
input and has loads of enthusiasm to help really kick things along." As a
trio, they project sounds with the power of an orchestra, and their
attention to detail is like using pointillism to paint an emotional
landscape. As a five-piece, they syncopate as if they were contained
inside a high-speed subway rocket; the complex mix of Spanish, Japanese,
surf and prog arrangements are amusing, controlling the audience like
stoplights at a major city intersection. Originals, covers (including
Yes's "Heart of the Sunrise") and daring improvs grace this live
recording, which will indiscriminately charm infants up through to the
aged. Lams knows where things will continue to progress, "this went so
well that we decided to do another tour as a quintet this August, as
well as recording a studio album together."
1. Train to Lamy (4:56)
2. Zundoko Bushi (with excerpts from 21st century schizoid man) (3:43)
3. Blackhead (3:36)
4. Apache (3:26)
5. Sketches on sunset (6:48)
6. Discipline (4:51)
7. Misirlou (1:58)
8. Many people ask us... (3:05)
9. Melrose Ave. (2:15)
10. Dance of Maya (5:54)
11. Heaven's bells (6:56)
12. Heart of the sunrise (7:22)
13. Caravan (5:28)
14. Eve (4:02)
Total Time: 64:20
Line-up / Musicians
- Bert Lams / guitars
- Hideyo Moriya / guitars
- Paul Richards / guitars
- Tony Levin / stick, bass
- Pat Mastelotto / drums