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on 18 September 2001
This is the latest in a series of recordings by three of the leading guitarists of their generation. It is a more substantial offering than the previous two, running at over 53 minutes, with 9 tracks in all. Two are written by De Lucia, with three-a-piece by McLaughlin and DiMeola. The music displays the fire and grace which we have come to expect from this trio, but there is also a sense that both the writing and playing of the trio have become a little less frantic and more focussed than on previous occasions.And, dare I say it, more melodic. When the listener has got over the awe inspired by the sheer technical mastery that each of these players has of his instrument, one is left with the simple beauty of the music. It was considered hip in the days of punk (itself nearly thirty years old) to refer to music of this kind as 'self indulgent', 'irrelevant' and worse. Anyone who categorises this music in that way is doing each and every one of us a disservice. This is pure music. Three men and three acoustic guitars, what could be simpler. The one standard' on the album, Manha De Carnaval (credited here to Luis Bonfefa but elsewhere to Luis Bonfa)is a beautifully relaxed rendition which remains faithful to the spirit of the original theme yet allows the soloists (DiMeola and McLaughlin) room to breathe. The original tunes each reflect the clear identities of their composers; afficianados would have no difficulty identifying the composer of each tune without consulting the detailed notes which accompany the cd. In my experience, repeated listening to this recording is llkely to reveal new vistas each time and your favourites are likely to change as you travel deeper into the music but I guarntee you will never become bored. The recording quality is even better than both the original recordings and remastered versions of 'Friday Night in San Francisco ('81)' and 'Passion Grace and Fire ('83) with clear and consistent definition between each of the three players. Whether this is a result of 13 years of advancements in recording technology or not is academic. The results are a sound for sore ears. In short, if you are a fan of this trio, or of any or all of the players involved, I would urge you to invest in this recording. I still listen to the previous two recording 18 or more years after purchasing them when they were first released. The many hours of listening pleasure you will have with 'The Guitar Trio' will make this a valued investment.
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on 28 March 2007
I played this CD in the Taxi when I was working as a Taxi driver, with out exception people raved about it, from teenage Hoodies to old codgers, not only is it technically brilliant and quality music it could satisfy any music snob, it also is very listenable for people who just like music like pop, it does it all, with out making any compromises . Which in the end of the day is the best any one can do, be excellent all round and still have general appeal true genius, one of the best Albums you can buy.

Its so listenable and enjoyable I don't notice how good technically the guitarists are, because they take you some where else and it never sounds the same twice, that to me is true musician ship and artistry, not many people get there.

Its a shame Albums like this don't get more air time,
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on 5 April 2017
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on 22 November 2003
To me 'The Guitar Trio' (the second studio album by McLaughlin, di Meola, and de Lucia) contains the 'Grace' that was lacking in 'Passion Grace & Fire' which was released some 13 years earlier. One can tell that a great deal of thought went into each track and as a result we are rewarded with a far more mature approach from the Trio which concentrates on the melodies and harmonies that are possible with acoustic guitars.
Of course the technical ability is still astounding, but there is less of an emphasis upon this aspect of the music and after a number of listens one appreciates the underlying simplicity of many of the tracks. Of all 3 albums by the trio this is the one that I find I can listen to straight through from beginning to end, over and over again without tiring of, and without wishing that certain tracks had been omitted.
A superb album, highly recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in acoustic guitar music.
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on 11 September 2012
Having previously enjoyed 'Friday Night In San Francisco 'I was eager to hear what this reunion of three of the world's greatest guitarists had to offer .I have to say that initially I was slightly disappointed because compared to the previous live album this seemed much more refrained and studio polished .This album , however , has grown on me over the years and I find that it is an album that I play with greater regularity than most in my collection.

Released in 1996 and with a running time of over 50+ minutes ,it consists of nine original compositions. De Lucia wrote two of the compositions whilst Di Meola and McLaughlin wrote three of the songs each.One song was written by Luis Bonfefa and Antonio Maria .The playing is beautifully lyrical and is flawlessly executed as you would expect and there are inner notes to let the listener know which guitarist is playing a particular solo at any given time .These guys make a great team and often bring out the best in each other whilst always being aware that the song is there to be served rather than merely as a vehicle for selfish over- indulgence and unwanted flashy fretwork !

My two favourite songs here were both penned by Al Di Meola .They are 'Azzura' and my favourite on the album , 'Espiritu'.Comparisons with the aforementioned legendary live album 'Friday Night In San Francisco ' are perhaps slightly unfair and although I have already stated my favouritism for the legendary (mainly) live album ,similarly there are those who will prefer this studio offering .The logical step is to give both works a listen and enjoy the experience !
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on 19 October 2014
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on 28 October 2013
I'm a huge fan of these three's joint and respective individual careers. But having rated the original studio album "Passion, Grace & Fire" a solid five-star modern classic, this album can only manage (a very solid, positive and "buyable") four. Why?

Well let's start with the positives. Since "Passion", each has gone on a whole quantum leap in terms of technique, composition and improvisation. John's excursions into more mainstream jazz have yielded a whole new vocabulary in his solos in his later works. Ditto Al, whose work on "Cielo e Terra" and subsequently in his "World Sinfonia" definitely took his musicality and originality up several notches. Even Paco, never a strong improvisor in the Jazz sense, is more relaxed and confident in this type of setting, having successfully toured in a duo setting with John for many years. For me, it is these duos (now captured in John's Montreaux Sessions album collection) see the peak of these two's collaboration.

So to the album. The pieces themselves are mostly good. Opening with Paco's twisted, surly "Estiba", this album has some good highlights: the simple and colourful interplay between the three on Al's "Beyond the Mirage"; the celebratory feel of "Midsummer Night"; the "Mediterranean"-derived "Letter from India" with Paco's sublime solo; the beautifully bitter-sweet "Azzura".

So why only four stars? Here's why:

1. The testosterone is all but gone. Not necessarily a bad thing (there was arguably too much in "Friday Night"), but I'm not sure it has been replaced with enough of the best of these musicians's other talents. The capability shown by these individuals in other settings just does not make it onto this recording. Which is a shame, as these players should be bringing their best game to this recording. Evidence? "Manha" sounds like John and Al doing a contractual-obligation recording to produce filler, rather than bringing any new or fresh insight (contrast with the stunning version delivered in 1979 with Paco and Larry Coryell). This somewhat lacklustre feel pervades other tracks too.

2. This lacks the consistency and unity of vision of the prior recordings. Pieces like "Espiritu" or "Azzura" are really just standard Di Meola pieces which could have had any other competent session musicians playing in John's and Paco's place. And unlike "Passion", this feels like three different sessions stitched together, with seemingly different production on each track.

3. Bad habits are back: Al's processed guitar sound makes a return and as much as he may protest otherwise, it still sounds plasticky on "his" tracks (although it seems Paco may have forced the use of a more mic'ed sound on "his" tracks).

4. Finally, the pieces are just not that strong and neither is the improvisation, both of which often ramble. With the possible exception of "Estiba", none of the pieces is up to the standard set on "Passion".

I may seem overly critical here, but that's only because these musicians are capable of five star music. Indeed, my four stars means this is above a three-star, buyable average and yes, well worth getting. For your money you'll be getting a display of outstanding musicianship and composition, way above the normal dross out there. But this is not the best of their work.

Others may criticise my view, and that's fine, but I strongly suggest getting to listen to both "Passion" and the Montreaux sessions before you do, where you may get a taste of something far more satisfying, in terms of composition, improvisation, originality and creativity.
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This is the third (of three) recording releases by this trio of virtuoso guitarists, playing their unique melange of classical, flamenco and jazz styles. Unlike the live-on-stage `Friday night in San Francisco', this is a collection of exclusively studio material.

The album contains eight original tracks with each of the three making a contribution to the writing/composing, and one `standard' tune, the ambient `Manha de Carnaval'. Overall the pace is more relaxed than that of `Passion Grace and Fire' and `Friday Night', with the finger-burning fretboard work here subordinated to a more melodious soundscape laced with delicacy, making it truly music for all occasions.

The sound quality is superior even to the outstandingly remastered FNiSF and PGF, and for my money this is not only the best of the three, but a strong contender for the best acoustic/classical guitar music ever recorded.
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on 12 October 2013
I really love this beautiful Spainsh guitar music. It has enhanced my life with its beauty. Great guitar player is Paco and I have not heard a better player. It is a must buy for any one who likes quality guitar playing at its best. Will buy some more of his music soon.
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on 20 May 2016
No better acoustic guitar playing. classical/spanish/flamenco style with edge
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