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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Guitar Heaven in Playa Del Rey

by VeroniqueChevalier (writer), West Hollywood, September 20, 2007

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Just as with luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, where the price tags of the inventory speak louder than any street sign could, Trilogy Guitars is a destination for the most discerning guitar shoppers in the world.

The business is housed in an unobtrusive two-story edifice at the ocean end of Playa del Rey's tiny block long downtown. The building has no signage to distinguish it from neighboring homes, and it blends seamlessly into the upscale surrounding of the beach community. Owner John Silva specializes in carrying only the output of the best luthiers of today, (The prices for the stock on hand starts at the mid four figures and goes up from there).

One such luthier is LA local Jack Sanders, also a world-class guitarist in his own right, was in attendance for a recent house concert featuring Japanese virtuosos brothers Goh (guitar) and Kai (bass) Kurosawa. (Mr. Sanders was responsible for customizing Kai's Warr Guitar by removing a swath of frets down the center of the instrument. Kai is the only player in the world to play this particular guitar as a simultaneously fretted and fretless instrument).

By being the clearinghouse for the some of most expensive and exquisite custom guitars in the world, Mr. Silva has been able to book such world class talents as the Kurosawa brothers, Thomas Leeb, Ricard Cobo, Dennis Koster, and many other names familiar to guitar music aficionados the world over, for concerts in his 50 seat upstairs showroom. He jokingly quips that he won't let any of the musicians purchase anything out from his inventory unless they promise to play at Trilogy someday.

This arrangement is one that not only brings Silva the pleasure of experiencing the consummate artistry of his most accomplished customers, but gives the few lucky insiders (who hear about the concerts via word of mouth), the rare chance to see the world's best guitarists from a distance of a scant few feet in a cozy space about the size of a large living room.

From my first row seat, I was literally within five feet of the proceedings, (which is a far cry from my nosebleed seat I had at the Hollywood Bowl 20 years ago for the Romeros). Goh's offerings ranged from fusion/percussive in the title track, to Asian-tinged in the flamenco-ish "Things That Matter We Tend To Forget About." Two young men from the audience joined him onstage to accompany on palmas for a rousing pure Spanish flamenco number originally done at the age of 19 by his idol Paco de Lucia.

After Goh's solo set, I couldn't imagine that the experience could get any better, but it did with a set by Goh & Kai's trio called Sharp Three. Not only are Goh and Kai, along with percussionist Nick Terry (who is also a wonderful talent), but the two brothers, who appear to have a very close relationship, engaged in some friendly banter that underscored how natural they are onstage. Kai is actually a bit of a joker. He noticed me scribbling notes as he was talking about the Warr Guitar he plays, and when I told him I wrote a column, he quipped to the Mr. Silva at the back of the room to quick, bring the journalist some more wine.

The Sharp Three played four lengthy compositions from their CD, with the explanation that when playing live they expand upon what's on the recording, since performing allows them more room for improvisation. After the last number, the audience made it clear that an encore was in order, but Mr. Terry had already left the stage.

Kai pulled the tall stool, on which he'd been seated, next to Goh's chair, and in one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed anywhere, both brothers proceeded to simultaneously play an improvisation of one of Goh's compositions- on the same guitar! Kai took the three bass strings and played them almost exclusively in the touch style and Goh played only the treble strings, combining finger picking, strumming and some touch style.

Kai also playfully threw in a few random percussive patterns on the guitar body, mimicking Goh's technique earlier in the evening. Kai's tapping visibly cracked his brother up, but Goh managed not to lose his place and they both wrapped up the piece at precisely the same instant. Both brothers' hands then remained poised in midair for a few seconds after the finale, almost as if to gather their wits back about them before they beamed back to earth, for surely music like that is not made through mortal means alone.


About the Writer

VeroniqueChevalier is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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