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California Guitar Trio


Review by Gary Hill

The latest disc from California Guitar Trio is the first from them with no cover tracks. Taking songs from other artists and arranging them in a decidedly CGT way is a trademark of the group, but this CD breaks that tradition. What it doesn’t move from is the concept of classy and potent music released by CGT. This is a strong disc that holds up well compared to others in their catalog, while not varying too far from their usual sound.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Cathedral Peak

There is a pretty keyboard type sound that opens this. Then something that feels a little like flamenco guitar joins. From there they take it into a more rock and roll motif. The acoustic guitar soloing that comes over the top brings back some of that flamenco, though. This is a cool tune that has a number of shifts and changes. At times it reminds me a little of Pat Metheny’s particular brand of fusion. An extremely mellow section later is quite tasty, too.

Turn of the Tide
A more intricate piece of music, this is quite powerful and quite beautiful. At times this makes me think of early Genesis.
This is a lot more of a rocker than the previous number had been. It’s got some killer intricate soloing over the top, too. Lush space rock styled layers come over the top later. There’s a more stripped down motif later in the piece that seems to have hints of western soundtrack music. From there, though, it works to more pure fusion territory with some seriously crunchy guitar soloing.
Improv IX
Intricate and powerfully pretty, this is pretty standard fare for CGT, but that, in itself, is something great, really.
Hazardous Z

The Spanish elements return here and really dominate. Of course, that’s just the base point for the musical exploration. They keep those Latin sounds in place as they continue, but they really expand upon and re-think them throughout.

There’s an acoustic based chugging sort of rhythm to this. The instrumental soloing and interplay is quite intricate and involved. Somehow it calls to mind The Church’s “Under the Milky Way” quite a bit.
Improv VII
Just under a minute in length, this is very much in a space sort of motif.
Middle of TX
There is both a playful and a classical music air to this number. It’s an interesting one. None of the changes here are drastic, but there are a lot of them.
Improv VIII Layered Circulation
This is mellower and quite intricate. There seems to be a bit of an Asian flair to it.
Portland Rain
A delicate and complex acoustic driven motif opens this. It definitely feels a lot like early Genesis. Even as they build out in different directions comparisons to Genesis are appropriate. There are some rather classical elements laid over the top later, though. In fact, this gets quite classically arranged later as the intensity moves upward. Some Crimson-like textures are added later and this becomes a real powerhouse number with some soaring sections as it continues.
Improv I
The final track on show is another improv. It’s pretty and intricate and at times has some hints of Asian music.
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