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Music Review

Guitars Sing at a Jam Party With Towner, Pereira, Others

November 16, 2000|JOHN HENKEN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The guitar is the original crossover instrument, from its infancy moving freely from the court to the street, from Old World to New. Not surprising then, it takes readily to fusion waters, a major point of the International Guitar Night Tuesday at the CSUN Performing Arts Center.

San Francisco guitarist Brian Gore, with numerous models before him, has been producing package shows such as this for six years. The current lineup of guitarist-composers features American jazz legend Ralph Towner, the phenomenal Brazilian Marco Pereira, the reflective Italian Antonio Calogero, and Gore himself, a self-taught neo-folky.

Towner's playing has lost none of its imagination or resilience, although he seemed to struggle a bit on his own composition "Green and Golden." He did a fluidly chiming piece on 12-string guitar, and with Pereira brought the generous program to triumphant conclusion, wringing every possible implication from Baden Powell's "Samba Triste" in a vitally interactive, florid yet focused, technically and musically overwhelming duo improvisation. Anyone with a bootleg tape of that has a real collector's item.

Although he too composes, Pereira bucked the trend here and played other writers' works, including Jobim's "Luiza" and Chick Corea's "La Fiesta." His sensitive arrangements are highly personal, however, and his playing is extraordinary in its skill and spontaneity. His commitment to the moment is complete, but without any sense of indulgence or disruption to the musical line.

Calogero, now a neighbor of Gore in San Francisco, did perform his own, mostly lyrical pieces. He can make the guitar dance as well as sing, though, with strong intimations of new tango and world music. He plays with liquid grace whether in moody introversion or energized riffing, and was an evocative sound painter in pieces such as "Festo del Vento" and "Porta d'Oro."

Gore was an amiable host-cum-cheerleader, and a solid player in his own right, working in a steel-string style reminiscent at times of John Renbourn and Mason Williams, but with a characterful bounce and spaciousness of his own. He also partnered Calogero and Pereira in duets of his "Leap of Faith" and "The Green Ray."

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