Saturday, December 9, 2017

Trey Gunn - 2001 "Live Encounter"

Trey Gunn played in enough rock bands in his formative '80s years to learn how to become a star in popular music -- and then did a 180 into the jazz/fusion thicket. Gunn graduated from keyboards to guitar, then bass to Chapman stick before discovering the customized Warr guitar (which he calls a "touch guitar" because of its tapping response). With progressive rock juggernaut King Crimson since 1994, Gunn's Live Encounter CD goes even further outside of standard rock than Crimson's excursions -- blending Eastern and other world music styles with jazz/fusion rhythms and an against-the-grain attitude. With Gunn playing the ten-string and Joe Mendelson the eight-string Warr guitar, plus Tony Geballe adding electric guitar unorthodoxy on the opening "Dziban," it's deliciously difficult to discern who's playing what over drummer Bob Muller's 7/4-timed groove. Most of the early material is from Gunn's outstanding 1996 studio CD, The Third Star, with a couple exceptions. "The Glove," from 2000's even-better The Joy of Molybdenum, literally showcases Muller's leftism -- the drummer plays mounted tabla drums to the side of his drum kit in the intro before providing a bottom-heavy beat for solos by Geballe and Gunn. Warr guitars are capable of everything from bass-like bottom and distorted power chords to the clean, Crimson-like intertwining lines on "Sirrah." Another piece from The Third Star, "Arrakis," features psychedelia by Geballe and Mendelson over Gunn's monolithian lower-register notes and Muller's clever, percussive arsenal. The tribal, snake-charming closer, "Rune Song: The Origin of Water," beats the odds for any genre by featuring no solos over eight minutes. Clearly, these are virtuoso players who could play traditional jazz but choose to play more outside and emphasize the whole over the singular parts. High artistic marks and Gunn's side job with Crimson allow the Trey Gunn band enough currency -- against all popular music odds -- for the occasional studio recording session and these live encounters.

King Crimson 'Warr Touch' guitarist Trey Gunn's live show is the ultimate balance of power & symmetry - he gracefully intersperses rock, funk, ambient & world beat elements with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Joined by multi-percussionist Bob Muller, guitarist Tony Geballe & second 'Warr Touch' guitarist Joe Mendelson, Gunn has finally captured the band in its true essence, raw & bursting with energy. This is an enhanced CD that includes live Quicktime footage, assembled & mixed during Gunn's early 2000's tour with King Crimson on a double-bill with Tool.

Trey Gunn is still best known as a member of the most recent incarnation of King Crimson, playing his Warr Touch guitar, a variation on the Chapman Stick. Gunn's work with Crimson carries over into his own ensemble, except instead of holding down the bass player's role, he stretches out into some scintillating lead work that owes a debt to his mentor, Robert Fripp, especially the long, undulating sustained melodies. Teaming up with another Warr guitarist, Joe Mendelson, guitarist Tony Geballe, and drummer Bob Muller, Gunn shows that 2000's The Joy of Molybdenum was no studio fluke, as he brings the same hell-bent fury and sky-scraping architecture to the live performances captured here. Jettisoning the vocals that often make King Crimson sound like two different bands--one a quirky pop group with Adrian Belew singing, another storming the gates of instrumental heaven--Gunn's band sets their sites on the instrumental heaven, with roles shifting in the band as guitars become percussion instruments and drums become melodic. But topping it all are elaborate guitar and Warr guitar leads veering from African style cross-picking to feedback frenzies.

These live recordings were taken from tours in September 2000 and February 2001.

Track listing:

1. Dziban 6:06
2. The Glove 5:35
3. Kuma 5:26
4. Hierarchtitiptitoploftical 3:38
5. Sirrah 5:15
6. Arrakis 7:44
7. Tehlikeli Madde 5:14
8. Brief Encounter 4:36
9. Rune Song: The Origin Of Water 7:56


Trey Gunn 10-string Warr Guitar
Joe Mendelson 8-string Warr Guitar, Ashbory Rubber Bass
Tony Geballe Electric Guitar, 12-string Acoustic Guitar
Bob Muller Drums, Hand drums, Percussion

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