the three members located all over the world, The California Guitar
Trio rose to fame through their affiliation with King Crimson
founder Robert Fripp during his early Discipline Global Mobile era.
With a slew of great albums in their canon, CGT has far surpassed
all expectations and, in 2017 they further their legacy with a another
memorable album called Komorebi. Leading off
with the title trackcomposed by CGT cofounder Hideyo Moriyathe
CD features eleven sparkling, mainly acoustic guitar-based instrumentals
that combine other music composed by group cofounders Bert Lams
and Paul Richards. The album is also notable for some fresh
CGT covers, including the early Shadows classic (penned for them by
the late, great Jerry Lordan) Wonderful Land. Other covers
on Komorebi include songs made famous by the Beach Boys (Good
Vibrations), Buck Owens (Buckaroo), The Beatles
(Dig A Pony) and even Dave Brubeck (Blue Rondo à
la Turk). In the hands of these three excellent guitarists,
these classic songs come alive as never before. Several guest artists
appearincluding CGT family members Tony Levin, Petra
Haden and Tom Griesgraberbut the center spotlight
is on the ever-changing, yet constantly brilliant, California Guitar
to mwe3.com about the new cover version of "Wonderful Land"
and "Dig A Pony", Paul Richards adds, "On the second
CGT album we recorded a cover of the Shadows' "Apache",
which was recommended to us by Robert Fripp. He even taught us the
'Shadow Walk' just before going onstage to open for King Crimson at
Royal Albert Hall. We love The Shadows and Jerry Lorden's writing,
so when we were deciding on a surf guitar cover for our new album,
"Wonderful Land" stood out as a winner. For the Beatles
tune... Yes, "Dig a Pony" is certainly one of the Beatles'
novelty tunes and I love the cool guitar riff that begins the tune."
A stellar album from California Guitar Trio, Komorebi is a
tribute to classic music and to the art of instrumental guitar. www.facebook.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO
How did you decide on the name Komorebi for the 2017 CD? Its
interesting that you also included the name in Japanese too. What
does it translate to and whats been the reaction from Japan?
Is Hideyo something of a guitar hero in his native country?
Paul: Komorebi (Japanese, Noun) Sunlight filtering through
the leaves of trees, creating beams of light that shine on the forest
floor. Last year when we were working on new music for a new album,
Hideyo wrote this beautiful delicate piece and named it Komorebi.
We felt this music and the wonderful Komorebi album cover photo
from our friend howard-snyder.com
set the mood for the album very well. We havent had a chance
to play concerts in Japan since the Komorebi release, hopefully
well be invited back soon. CGT has performed in Japan at least
a dozen times. The last time we were there doing concerts in Tokyo
and Osaka at the Billboard magazine venue, Hideyo received lots of
big cheers and a very warm welcome from the audience.
mwe3: Was there a theme in the Komorebi album as far
as choosing the music this time? Its so varied with the combination
of new music and covers. How do you decide on choosing the cover tracks?
Is it done by unanimous consent or do you draw straws to see who wins?
Paul: The theme for our albums generally develop
as we are recording and putting the albums together. Weve never
had to draw straws when choosing music. Many of the cover tunes are
suggestions from friends and fans. All three of us have a very open
mind, and are generally in agreement when we hear something that works
well for us. Alternatively, if any of us feels strongly that an idea
is not working well, the three of us work together to see if its
possible to turn it into a good idea, or its easily abandoned.
Weve tried many cover tunes that didnt work well for us
at all. We are excited when we choose a cover tune that works out
well. The proportion of original music to cover tunes often depends
on how prolific we are at the time. Writing new music is a constant
Was Good Vibrations picked because of its timelessness
as far as summer music choices go? Its interesting that you
chose the most popular Beach Boys song yet, the Beatles' selection
Dig A Pony is one of the most unknown Beatles hits. How
challenging were those tracks by Brian Wilson and the Fabs Four to
arrange for 3 guitars? Might there be other excursions into those
Bert: We picked Good Vibrations mostly because
of its interesting composition and textural changes within the song.
Very much like Bohemian Rhapsody, it has unexpected changes
and great melodies that translate well to the guitar. But above all:
these pieces speak to the imagination.
Most people have heard these songs, and when we play them, there is
that recognition aspect. But we give it a CGT twist: we
strip down to the essentials of the song, without gimmicks, like distortion
or layering of many vocal tracks. This way the core of the piece and
the musical intention shines through in a different, more simple way.
Paul: One of our early CGT friends is a big Beach Boys fan
and she had been suggesting to us since 1991 that we do a Beach Boys
cover. It took us 25 years to finally take a closer look at it. Bert
and I listened through many of the Beach Boys songs and decided
on Good Vibrations. Bert worked hard on the arrangement
and sent mp3s and scores to Hideyo and I to learn. Its
not an easy song to play, but it came together fairly quickly once
we learned the parts.
I got the idea for the CGTs Dig A Pony after hearing
a recording of an Argentinean musician friend of mine Alejandro Miniaci
doing a great cover of this tune. Alejandros version reminded
me of how cool the opening guitar riffs are and we also liked that
it is one of the more obscure Beatles tunes.
mwe3: Americans hardly knew The Shadows, who were probably
overlooked at the tail end of Americas 1950's cold war wave
of the late 1950s. Whats the CGT connection to Hank Marvin and
Back in 1992, Robert Fripp suggested that CGT do a cover of "Apache".
This was our first introduction to The Shadows. We immediately loved
Jerry Lordans writing and Hank Marvins guitar playing.
In 1995 as CGT was getting ready to take the stage at the Royal Albert
Hall in London opening for King Crimson, Robert taught the 3 of us
the 'Shadowwalk', which significantly enhanced our live version of
this great tune. Last year when we were working on our Komorebi
album, we were listening to some of the Shadows classics and Wonderful
Land stood out to us as a winner. After further investigation
I found out that Wonderful Land was a number 1 hit in
the UK in 1961 and stayed at number 1 longer than any other song that
year. Its about time we introduced this song to America!
mwe3: The title track is brilliant, yet its one of the
shortest tracks on Komorebi. Did you set out to make a kind
theme song? If so, thats a great theme song. How does the title
evoke the cover art and can Hideyo say something about the Japanese
characters of the name Komorebi?
Hideyo: The first 4 bars with the intro chords appeared while
I was playing my guitar at home. I kept in mind that the piece needs
a lot of space in between the notes; I had an image of the pale
sunlight through the green leaves of a tree. Later when we met
as CGT in Atlanta, the piece took shape very quickly in one afternoon
session. So, I was very glad since sometime it took forever to finish.
I changed the title to Komorebi in Japanese because it
much simpler and mysterious.
Ko (__means Tree.
More (___means Leak.
Bi (__means Sunlight.
The piece Komorebi is more gentle image of the sunlight
on the ground, and many Japanese imagine it in that way. The album
title and cover of Komorebi is more strong sunlight through
the trees, which stands for all the pieces in the album.
You mention how you worked with Tom Griesgraber on making of Komorebi
and how Tom did research and experimented with Neumann mics this time.
How different was recording Komorebi compared with your last
albums? Do you strive to improve your recorded sound with each album?
The new album has a uniquely recorded sound.
Bert: As a trio, we grow and change in a dynamic way. Weve
been together for 26 years now, and over the years weve enjoyed
experimenting and playing with different sounds and technology, relating
to the acoustic guitar.
Weve known Tom for many years; he is an excellent Chapman Stick
player, who joined CGT on tour many times. I played many concerts
with him as a duo over the past ten years. Two years ago, I released
an album with him, called Unnamed Lands.
Tom also runs a recording studio from his home. Since we know each
other so well, it was an obvious choice for us to work with him on
this new album. He did a lot of research before the recording even
started, trying out different microphones and set ups for our specific
situation: we wanted it to sound as if we are playing right in from
of you, without too many gimmicks, reverb, effects etc. Just us three,
the guitars and the music. We needed someone like Tom who would be
open to work with this particular situation.
mwe3: Tell us about working with Tony Levin on Komorebi.
When did you meet Tony and does he represent the King Crimson / CGT
connection in the current times? Who else guests on Komorebi
and what do you make of the latest music by Robert Fripp and King
Crimson? And what else do you hear from the KC camp these days?
CGT met Tony Levin when Robert invited CGT to open 130 concerts for
King Crimson in 1995 and 1996. We became good friends with Tony during
that tour and then began playing music together with him soon after.
In 2001 we released a live album called Rocks The West made
from a series of concerts that we did with Tony. Tony has remained
one of our favorite collaborators playing on many of our albums and
doing live shows together when possible.
Last year, Tony was very busy touring with Peter Gabriel and Sting.
At the end of this tour Tony had 3 days at home before he left for
England to begin the King Crimson tour. I sent Tony 3 tracks from
our Komorebi album, and on his few precious days off he recorded
beautifully on Cherry Trees, Euphoria and
On Komorebi we also have Petra Haden, who is the daughter of
jazz bassist Charlie Haden, singing on Euphoria and Spiritual.
A violinist friend of mine here in LA, Nora Germain plays on Euphoria,
and we also have famous Italian violinist Davide Rossi on Claymont
I got to see King Crimson play twice last month, once here in Los
Angeles and once in Denver. Excellent shows! Ive personally
seen King Crimson play over 140 times, yes, one hundred and forty!,
and this new line up is superb. I dont know all the band members
now personally, but I enjoyed catching up Tony, Pat and Bill after
the shows. Robert generally keeps a very low profile while on tour
and doesnt socialize much. I was in the right place at the right
time on two separate occasions and got to say hello to Robert twice.
I feel very thankful for all the KC connections!
CGT play the Raymond Kraut, Ervin Somogyi and Breedlove Guitars on
Komorebi. Have you used this combination of guitars before? Are you
always on the lookout for new guitars for live shows and recording?
Bert: Weve played many guitars over the years. In 1991
we started out with the Ovations, and have played many different guitars
since, including Martin, Taylor, and Washburn guitars.
In 1995 Ervin Somogyi, one of the greatest luthiers in the world,
crafted special guitars for the CGT. We played these beautiful instruments
for many years, and Paul used his for the Komorebi album.
Hideyos been playing Breedlove guitars for many years now, and
they made a special model for him: a CM model with cocobolo back and
sides and spruce top.
Two years ago I was approached by master luthier Raymond Kraut, offering
to make me a custom designed guitar with walnut back and sides and
fanned frets. Ive been playing this fine instrument since.
mwe3: What other plans do you have for 2017 and beyond and
have you given some thought as to future plans as far as writing,
recording and live shows?
Currently, we are touring and promoting our Komorebi album,
and this summer we will record a new album as a sextet with our friends
from the Montreal Guitar Trio. As for next year, we have different
ideas floating around. One of them is to do an album with your suggestions
in mind, covering the music from the surf and beach guitar groups
on acoustic guitar. People really seem to enjoy that aspect of the
We just posted a new video of us, covering Good Vibrations
by the Beach Boys, and it received 36,000 hits on our Facebook page
in under a week. There is a lot of music of that era that I would
really enjoy playing on the acoustic guitar, and an album with that
music would be a fun CGT project to do. It looks like well be
in your neck of the woods next year! Our agency has confirmed concerts
in Florida for February 2018 in Delray Beach and Miami.