There are guitar summits and then there are guitar summits. The names James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett, and David Wilcox may not be well known to the generation of music fans under 30, but for people in the know, they present the cream of guitar players of the past half-century.
James Burton has appeared on hundreds of recording in addition to being the regular touring guitarist for Ricky Nelson and Elvis Presley. Albert Lee has released 20 solo albums, taken part in well over 2000 recording sessions, in addition to touring with Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, and The Crickets among others. Amos Garrett can be heard with Maria Muldaur, Paul Butterfield, Doug Sahm, Bonnie Raitt, and his own jazz trio. David Wilcox was a member of Great Specked Bird, 1970-1973, played with Ian & Sylvia and Maria Muldaur, and has consistently been one of Canada’s most influential and respected guitarists.
The Masters of the telecaster came together at the Vancouver Island Music Fest, July 12, 2013. They were backed by Albert Lee’s touring Band consisting of lead vocalist/keyboardist Jon Greathouse, bassist Will MacGregor, and drummer Jason Harrison Smith. It has taken nearly two years for the concert to be released but Guitar Summitt is worth the wait.
The songs run the gamut from blues to rockabilly to good old fashioned rock and roll as the four guitarists trade licks. James Burton leads off with “That’s All Right (Mama)” and then recreates his original guitar performance of Dale Hawkins “Suzie Q.” David Wilcox provides a run of crystal clear notes on “Coming Home Baby.” Albert Lee is the ring master but steps out front on his own “Country Boy.” Amos Garrett may produce the most technically adept performance as he coaxes exquisite sounds from his guitar on “Sleepwalk.”
Songs such as “Flip, Flop And Fly,” The swamp laden “Polk Salad Annie,” and “You’re The One” are group efforts with the guitarists trading solos and coming back together.
The four guitarists play off of each other as the improvisations grow out of years of experience. While their style may be different from many modern day guitarists, their sound is eternal.
Albums such as this need to be appreciated for what they are, as the protagonists may not pass this way again.