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Critic's Pick: Anthony Wilson's Seasons Guitar Quartet

May 23, 2013|By Chris Barton
  • The Seasons Quartet, clockwise from left: Anthony Wilson, Julian Lage, Larry Koonse and Chico Pinheiro.
The Seasons Quartet, clockwise from left: Anthony Wilson, Julian Lage,… (File photo )

Consider an all-guitar jazz quartet and it's easy for your mind to conjure images of fingers burning up and down fretboards with the kind of mind-scrambling fireworks that've made heroes out of Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin.

Although those approaches to guitar music aren't necessarily wrong, Anthony Wilson offers something more understated with his Seasons quartet. Assembled after being commissioned by guitar maker John Monteleone, the quartet of Wilson, Julian Lage, Chico Pinheiro and Steve Cardenas debuted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011 with a concert that became a split CD/DVD release that same year.

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What's most inviting about the album isn't the technical prowess on display, although there's certainly no shortage of that. It's the lush simplicity of the sound of wood, resonance and steel in the hands of four masterful musicans and collaborators, who uncover music that rests between thoughtful chamber-jazz and the sort of instrumental cross-pollination that recalls the more reflective moments of the trio records by McLaughlin with Paco de Lucía and Al Di Meola from the '70s.

At the Met, the quartet also gracefully covered music by Antônio Carlos Jobim, Wayne Shorter and a particularly elegant version of Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game." Although those songs should be considered fair game for this weekend's show presented by the Jazz Bakery (where local Larry Koonse fills in for Cardenas), Wilson has hinted on Twitter  of adding songs by Thelonious Monk and Carla Bley to the group's repertoire.

It may not sound like the typical pyrotechnics that light up your neighborhood Guitar Center showroom, but maybe it should.

Anthony Wilson's Seasons Guitar Quartet. The Jazz Bakery at the Musicians Institute, 1655 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Saturday,  $20.


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Twitter: @chrisbarton


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