Four world-famous musicians, each with a starkly different style of music, are coming together to celebrate their common passion: the guitar.
Canadian guitarist and composer Itamar Erez, Canadian jazz guitarist and vocalist Jocelyn Gould, Spanish flamenco master Jesús Guerrero and Germany-based soloist and chamber musician Stephanie Jones will be part of the annual International Guitar Night at Massey Theatre on Jan. 28.
“Each one comes from a different background, different tradition... And they each introduce their way of playing the guitar,” said Erez about the event.
While the 2021 Juno Award winner Jocelyn Gould’s work is influenced by jazz guitar greats such as Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, Stephanie Jones specializes in classical guitar performance and Jesús Guerrero, in flamenco guitar.
As for Erez, his music blends jazz, flamenco and Middle Eastern music.
Born in Israel, Erez got his first exposure to jazz music when he was around 12 years old. “My father would bring a lot of eclectic music home,” he recollected.
Over the years, he drew from different styles: “My music is a coming together of many influences. I was brought up studying classical music. At the same time, I was also listening to a lot of jazz and world music, including East Indian, Brazilian and avant-garde music,” he said.
“In my career, I have collaborated with a lot of artists through whom I learned about different cultures. I toured with Sufi musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek and learned about Middle Eastern music — Arabic and Turkish music.”
At the event, Erez and the other participating artists will perform solo for about 15 minutes; it will be followed by duets and a few quartets, he said.
“It's really a fun evening with lots of enjoyable music... virtuosic and intimate."
"It's usually sold out,” he added.
Being part of an international concert
The tour was first started off in the early 1990s by guitarist and composer Brian Gore as a private concert series in California, as reported in SFGate. Over the years, it expanded to over 30 venues in North America as an event that facilitates cultural exchange.
”Each one (guitarist) is at the top of the game," said Erez of the participating artists. "I'm really looking forward to meeting them, and spending time with them because when you tour, you basically are together a lot. You get up in the morning, you get in the car, and you travel together…On a personal and professional level, I am hoping to learn some new things, some new repertoire,” he said.
The 23rd International Guitar Night tour kicks off in Florida, United States, on Jan. 19. From the sunshine state, the band of acoustic guitar masters will make its way to British Columbia, before crossing the borders again to the States.
Erez, though, will only be part of the Canadian leg of the tour.
“We are now preparing pieces for the show. And we will actually only meet in person the day before our first show in Victoria (on Jan. 25). So far, all our communication has been through Zoom, WhatsApp and emails.”
Erez will be performing songs from his albums such as “Mi Alegria” and “Hommage.”
“My music is quite emotional,” he said. During the pandemic, Erez brought out an album about “coming out of a dark period into light… into spring,” and called it the "May Song."
“There are some pieces in the album that are more dark and searching, and some that are very optimistic and moving.”
Besides launching an album, Erez also took to doing virtual concerts and teaching at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music, around the time. Ever since, he went on a concert tour in Israel, and worked on an album with the Persian percussionist Hamin Honari (through a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts).
What keeps Erez inspired to create new music? Ironically, it's going back to old classics, he said.
“One of my role models is (Johann Sebastian) Bach. Almost every day, I play some of his music."
"Just listening and playing music of great composers is what inspires me."
Listen to Erez and other top guitarists play at the International Guitar Night at Massey Theatre (735 Eight Ave.) on Jan. 28 between 7.30 and 9.30 p.m. Tickets are priced between $35 and $45. For details, visit Massey Theatre website.