Three Guitars: Larry Coryell, Badi Assad, John Abercrombie, New Morning – The Paris Concert (2004)

by | Jan 4, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Three Guitars: Larry Coryell, Badi Assad, John Abercrombie (2004)
New Morning – The Paris Concert

Studio: Inakustik, Germany
Video: 4:3 full screen, color
Audio: DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1, PCM stereo, French & Portuguese
Subtitles: None
Length: 112 minutes
Rating: *****

Any multi-guitar fans who have been captivated by the Friday Night in San Francisco album by Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin (and its later sequel) will simply have to have this DVD.  It’s quite different in a number of ways – generally more laid back – but benefits from the undeniably exciting combination of three top improvisers on the guitar playing together live. We reviewed the Chesky CD by the trio some time ago. A studio recording, it has many of the same tunes as this new live DVD.

In the original group one of the three came from outside the mainstream jazz arena – Paco De Lucia – with his flamenco expertise adding a hot Latin stream to the proceedings. In this trio, taped at the Paris music club New Morning, we have quite a different sort of Latin influence.  Badi Assad comes from the fertile musical culture of Brazil, and in addition to holding her own in guitar improvisations with the two American guitarists, she contributes on about half the 17 selections both vocals in Portuguese on such bossa nova classics as Insensatez and Corcovado, and an amazing variety of percussive sounds using her mouth and body. On some of the tunes Assad sounds like a whole collection of exotic Brazilian percussion instruments, all by herself. She does play the kalimba (thumb piano) on one tune.  Her sparkling vocal and percussive improvisations show her to be a performer of a great deal more depth than her recent effort for DGG Edge (which we reviewed).  In fact, it is a stretch to believe this is the same woman who sang “In My Little White Top” on that recent CD!

Larry Coryell has been called “the most inventive guitarist since Charlie Christian,” has worked with rock performers and toiled in the jazz fusion gardens for many years now. Abercrombie has played in many leading small groups, often on the ECM label. A trio with Jack DeJohnette and Ralph Towner has been one of his prime groups. Both the male guitarists are quieter, less flashy in their improvisations than De Lucia’s cohorts were on the earlier guitar trio, but in pieces for their duo, as well as when including Assad, they are capable of burning down the place with incisive and complex plucking that leaves one breathless.

The videography is excellent, with no fears of shooting directly into the stage lights for terrific shimmering effects.  And artistically speaking, taping this in France where everybody seems to smoke, was a propitious idea:  the combination of the smoke and the stage lights makes for striking visuals around the guitarists!  (Wouldn’t be surprised if the crafty producers planned it that way!) The DTS surround mix is also right on (It’s a German production – do you expect otherwise?) and thus the image and sound together contribute to a first-class musical experience that even at close to two hours you will be sorry to have end when it does.

– John Sunier 
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