“Montfort’s newest album, Seven Serenades, is remarkably similar to a classical Hindustani improvised performance. There are brief guest spots featuring supportive background performances of didjeridu, santur, and violin, but most tracks are single note melodies on guitar, accompanied by nothing but an unobtrusive drone. The basic form of most of the tracks is the Hindustani alap/jhor/jhala, that slowly explores every part of the selected scale, first with no rhythm at all, then with a slowly increasing rhythmic pulse that builds to a heavily strummed crescendo. But although some of the scales on this album are based on traditional ragas, they do not come from a single guru, but from every corner of Montfort’s diverse musical history. ‘Celtic Raga’ is based on the Hindustani scale Khammaj, known as mixolydian in the west, which is the basis for many Irish fiddle tunes. Montfort’s interpretation starts by evoking a slow Celtic air, then gradually falls into the structure of a dancing Irish reel as it picks up tempo. ‘Lilalit’ is built on the challenging scale of Raga Lalit. Montfort’s interpretation combines the broad stark intervals of that raga to reveal jazzy chords that sound dissonant at first, but are actually following a special kind of consonance. ‘Purple Raga’ unpacks the melodic rules contained within the guitar riff of the famous Jimi Hendrix song ‘Purple Haze’ and reveals some powerful connections between Afro-American and Hindustani roots.
Because Montfort’s guitar has a scalloped fretboard, his fingers touch only the strings, enabling him to produce ornaments more characteristic of the sitar. This album reveals a thorough knowledge of Hindustani microtonal ornaments, transferred in ways that create one of the most distinctive guitar sounds in contemporary music. However, it also reveals a lifetime of exploration in world music, which can be immediately summoned in a flash of inspiration. When this level of mastery is reached, there is no need to rewrite. The first improvisation has the depth of a reworked composition.” – Teed Rockwell, INDIA CURRENTS, March 2009
“I first realized Matthew Montfort was a true guitar wizard when he called me on the phone and played me one flawless Hendrix riff after another. We were in the seventh grade. By the time we escaped high school, Matt had gone acoustic, turning coffee house basements into his own planet with fierce improvisations touching on an occasional Spanish or Celtic launching pad.
Now a pioneering master of world fusion, Matt continues to travel, study, absorb and immerse himself in musics and traditions all over the globe. His knowledge and depth are staggering, yet he doesn't let it get in the way of the joy and spirit and soul that we like about music in the first place.
The sparkling presence and sustain you hear is not an amplified acoustic with a lot of reverb, but a scalloped fretboard guitar. Matt's the only person I know who can play one. Most rock musicians I've mentioned it to seem shocked that it even exists.
The Mid-Eastern ventures are my favorite.” – Jello Biafra, (seminal punk rock singer, Dead Kennedy front man turned spoken word activist, politician) ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES RECORDS
“Master of the scalloped fretboard guitar.” – J. Poet, EAST BAY EXPRESS
“Matthew Montfort is an American Ravi Shankar on guitar.”– Pandit Habib Khan, sitarist
“Matthew Montfort's synthesis of styles and sounds isn't superficial -- he plucks the essential musicality of several traditions without discounting them. Beautiful world fusion music.” – Roger Carlberg, ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN
“Matthew Montfort plays a special, scalloped fretboard acoustic instrument that lets him get the bends of an Indian sitar. He uses it to weave seductive melodies.” – John Diliberto (host of Echoes, syndicated on PRI stations)
“Guitar is seldom featured in Indian classical music – yet Montfort is a pioneer of such and uses the scalloped fretboard guitar to bring out the best in Indian sounds. His background as a student of the notoriously-difficult sitar lends to translations which shine on guitar” – WorldDiscoveries.net
“MATTHEW MONTFORT/Seven Serenades: Label head and and leader Montfort continues with his free thinking guitar man ways on this outing of improvs that don’t fit into any of his other guises but need to be heard nonetheless. At it now for 30 years, he’s a throwback to the kind of great underground 70’s guitarists currently being unearthed by labels like Tompkins Square and Numero Group except this is no reissue, he’s carrying the torch here and now. Working with a like minded crew that’s as open minded as he is, this is music for people that remember what music was like and how much fun it was to find something rather than have it force communicated upon you. Tasty throughout.” – Chris Spector, MIDWEST RECORD
“The most beautiful, soulful guitar I have ever heard!!”– Chandi Devi, Editor-in-Chief, Karmacaffe.com
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30th Anniversary Releases
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Guitar Player Magazine
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