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Kings of Strings: Live in Belgrade

Kings of Strings: Live in Belgrade
Initiated by the Guitar Art Festival in Serbia in 2012, Kings of Strings was a project that brought together three exceptional guitarists: Vlatko Stefanovski, Tommy Emmanuel and Stochelo Rosenberg. At the festival, and on a string of tour dates throughout Europe, they showcased their abilities and talents in exceptional performances. The Guitar Art Festival is a hotbed for fine concerts by various guitar masters and educators. Over the years, it has staged unforgettable shows, featuring legendary performers such as Paco de Lucia, Sting and Edin Karamazov, Rene Aubrey, Tadic and Spassov, and Ennio Morricone, to name a few. It was no surprise that Kings of Strings came to life there, thanks to the initiative of its founder Boshko Radojkovic.

With the 10th-anniversary double vinyl reissue of Live in Belgrade, the magic of their first concert ever can be experienced by all. The album features the exceptional guitar playing of a triumvirate of brilliant guitarists who combine their unique styles and sounds to create a remarkable and captivating musical experience. Each of these players has a storied career and a distinct guitar approach, so their joining forces easily falls into the mold of the legendary guitar trio of John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia, and Al Di Meola. Although each guitarist can be picked out immediately, the three players share a deep respect and love for the instrument, which shines through in every note they play.

The trio's repertoire is wide-ranging, crossing the universes of jazz, blues, classical, Macedonian folk music, rock, and soul. There is a richly expansive work packed into these two vinyls. From the opening notes of the first track "Dizzy Fingers/Gallopin' Guitar/Appel Indirect," it is clear that these three guitarists have found a magical chemistry that allows them to play together in perfect harmony. Stefanovski's fiery Balkan- inspired riffs, melodies, and rhythms blend perfectly with Emmanuel's impeccable fingerpicking technique and Rosenberg's dazzling gypsy jazz runs.

Stefanovski contributes songs such as the opening ragtime "Dizzy Fingers" and "Amazing Grace," Macedonian folk reels "Piper's Dance" and "Butcher's Dance," and perennial "Gypsy Song." Rosenberg joins in with his iconic "Double J," "For Sephora," and Django Reinhardt's "Heavy Artillery." Meanwhile, Emmanuel, the elder statesman of the trio and an MC, provides the glue where all of these distinct styles and songs melt into one rich and elevated experience. Apart from the trio or duo formats, each plays solo improvisations. Compared to the initial CD, this vinyl features two solo improvisations by Stefanovski and Emmanuel and a bonus song, a rendition of Steve Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely." These can be found on the DVD that was recorded that evening. Throughout the album, the trio showcases their exceptional musicianship, effortlessly trading solos and melodies while weaving intricate textures and harmonies. Everyone contributes as much as is needed and they perform with simplicity and virtuosic intricacy.

Overall, the reissue of Kings of Strings' Live in Belgrade is a testament to the power of music to bring people together and create something truly special. It shows the trio as a unit from start to finish, one that exceeds the sum of its parts. The music captured on this night is amazing, surprising, exalting, and igniting. It exudes energy, wit, joy, and musicianship, favoring stylistic thrills over technical frills.

Track Listing

Dizzy Fingers / Gallopin’ Guitar / Appel Indirect; Double J; For Sephora; Butchers Dance; I'll See You In My Dreams; Rondo alla Turca; Willie’s Shade;; Piper’s Dance; Angelina; Gipsy Song; Amazing Grace; Improvisation Intro to Nuage by S.Rosenberg; Heavy Artillery; Improvisation by Vlatko Stefanovski; Isn't She Lovely; Improvisation to Over the Rainbow by Tommy Emmanuel

Personnel

Album information

Title: Live in Belgrade | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Association of Classical Guitarists Serbia


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