Article and Photos by: Michael W. Bright
Louisville, KY- When Zanzibar puts folding chairs in front of the stage, a space that’s most often filled wall to wall with standing fans, you begin to anticipate an intimate affair. Officially since 1991, Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya have been thrilling a loyal audience with a range of intricate guitar work that is best experienced in a live setting.
That’s not to say that California Guitar Trio is a stranger to the recording studio. Having just completed their fifteenth album, Komorebi, CGT has a rich catalogue from which to curate each performance. They launched Wednesday night’s show, first asking the audience to pull their chairs closer to the stage, then rolling into “surf” music, not so much a specific song, but rather a classic electric guitar style. The evening’s fare covered Bach to Beatles, Brubeck to Beachboys. It took even the most devoted CGT fans a solid fifteen seconds before “Good Vibrations,” lead, harmony and rhythm, merged into one of the sixties most recognizable and beloved hits. That moment of recognition was manifested in big grins, spreading from front to back rows, blindingly visible even inside the darkened club.
After another flawless surf cover, “Walk Don’t Run,” the Ventures’ 1960 version being most familiar, it was obvious to even the newly indoctrinated, why the California Guitar Trio moniker was adopted. By contrast, the collective audience was no less thrilled by the virtuosity expressed in two Bach offerings. During the quietest passages, with a respectful attentive audience, I was sure both the players and the fans could detect even the soft repetitive clicks of my camera. After the show however, both audience and group members assured me they could not.
CGT’s tour continues through mid-May with new dates being added and announced on their Web site, cgtrio.com.