Originally a formed at USC’s Thornton School of Music in 2003, the New West Guitar Group has, through the years, evolved into a dynamic and eclectic trio with a worldwide reputation; indeed, as this is being written, they are on on a mini-tour that has taken them to Indonesia and the Philippines. The group—John Storie, Perry Smith, and Will Brahm— plays a broad range of styles, from classic jazz tunes to imaginative arrangements of pop songs to diverse originals. Their playing is amazingly precise, yet it also has a looseness that makes much of their music swing. The most recent New West Guitar Group album, Send One Your Love, has the trio laying down a wide variety of acoustic and some electric guitars behind several fine vocalists, including Gretchen Parlato, Sara Gazarek, Tierney Sutton, and others.
For their Acoustic Guitar Sessions performance, the trio played three instrumentals: Dave Brubeck’s whimsical classic “Blue Rondo A La Turk,” and a pair of originals—”My Old Glasses,” which has a nice retro feel enlivened by some deft tempo changes, and “Crooked Railroad,” which John Storie says “celebrates the clickety-clack of a train going over railroad tracks.” Storie (in the center) plays a Jeff Traugott guitar, while Perry Smith (left) and Will Brahm (right) play two custom guitars that were given to Acoustic Guitar to celebrate the magazine’s 10th anniversary (15 years ago): Smith’s is by Larrivée, Brahm’s is a Taylor.