Dan’s guitar playing is an eclectic blend of everything he has listened to and studied – jazz, rock, world music from other cultures and countries – youll find it all in his playing. James Sallis, in the book THE GUITAR IN JAZZ writes, Dan Lamberts playing is highly individualistic – sometimes relaxed and in a groove, often full of stabbing odd turns – and immediately recognizable.
You’ll here guitar, sarod, ruan and oud at Dan Lambert performances. Most of the times he’s accompanied by Mexican percussionist Ricardo Amaya and, depending on the venue, percussionists Erik Hickerson or Mauricio Gonzalez may be along for the ride
Lately the show has been focusing on Dan’s original compositions showcased on the new Dan Lambert The Double Drum Trio CD. Wadi A Go Go, India Long Distanceand Oud Player’s Lament are hot one’s from the new one. The classics from earlier CDs are there also, with names like If Dogs Wore Hats, Tartan Swing, Howling Wilderness, Used To Be Such A Nice Boy, and Into It, along with arrangements of all sorts of music – the Zombies’ Time of the Season and She’s Not There, a bunch of Beatles tunes, jazz standards like Autumn Leaves, Fly Me To The Moon, How High The Moon, and Take Five, Carole King’s Its Too Late, Van Morrison’s Moondance and Brown Eyed Girl, the list goes on forever. Lately Chicago’s25 or 6 to 4 has been getting a run through onstage, as well as the Mission Impossible theme along with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
In January, 2004, Dan went on a playing trip to London that included 5 dates, one at the Windsor Platfest. A story about the shows was featured in WHATS UP, a southwest entertainment weekly, in February. Dan now writes an entertaining monthly music column,The Final Note, for WHAT’S UP.
I started sarod after playing guitar for 35 years. At times I would think, “What are you doing? People dedicate their lives to this instrument, study with gurus, sacrifice, make pilgrimages, and you’re trying to learn it by watching players on YouTube and listening to CDs and records. Are you nuts?”
I thought figuring out where the notes are on a long, fretless fingerboard would be difficult, but that’s been the easy part. Getting a clear tone is dicey, however. You use the fingernails on your fretting hand, not the pads of the fingers like I’m used to using on guitar. That’s a whole new ballgame, tiptoeing around on your fingernails.
While walking in the desert early one morning, I had a brainstorm, a vision, an enlightened musing that wandering around in the desert tends to induce what about using a slide?
I hadn’t played slide guitar in ages, although I used to play it a lot. I’d hit a dead end, the “All Roads Lead To Duane Allman” Syndrome. Slide guitar is like a big funnel: Throw all the players in and the absolute best will end up sounding, at their best, like Brother Duane. He set the standard. He’s definitely on the Men In Black registered alien list.
But on sarod, with its 25 strings, slide has endless possibilities, so I’ve been using my fingers as well as a glass slide. I’m experimenting with the tuning of the four playing strings, as well as the sympathetic strings, looking for combinations that let me play in a few keys.
Like a crazy fool, I added it to gigs right away, learning as I went. I’ve made a few alterations to get it to stay in tune, and to permit the playing of chords and shifting harmonies.
(Adapted from Dan’s June 11, 2008 Final Note column in What’s Up.)
I’ve been listening to oud players almost from the time I started playing guitar back in the 1970s. I would adapt phrases, even whole tunes from oud recordings by George Mgrdichian.
My courage at an all time high after playing sarod and then ruan, I decided to take the plunge, purchase an oud, and see where that would take me. I purchased a custom-made one from Syrian builder Samir Azar with a nice wide fingerboard, better suited to my guitar-playing fingers.
Lots of practice and a bunch of gigs later, I’m starting to write more pieces for it. The oud always gets a lot of attention at performances, and the leader of a belly dance troupe is using some of our recordings for shows. To me that’s an official seal of approval, or at least an indication that we’re moving in the right direction.
A few years ago I added sarod to the show, and once I had my confidence up that I could make my way around another stringed instrument besides guitar, I started thinking about yet another one to add. Maybe something a little deeper and more wooden.
During an internet search I gravitated towards two Chinese instruments, the pipa and the ruan. The ruan was the ultimate choice since it had a deeper sound, although I still have my eye on the pipa too.
Miao Xiaoyun’s CD, “The Art of the Chinese Lute” has been a big help in picking up technique and getting a feel for the ruan.
Exactly what is a Raagini? It is a digital electronic tanpura.
I suppose the keyword here is “tanpura.” In Eastern Europe, the tanpura or tambura is a cross between a baglama, bouzouki, saz and a lute. It’s basically a long-necked mandolin, depending on which culture you’re looking at. However, the Indian tanpura is a different animal.
There’s a background drone to Indian music, traditionally produced by an unfretted stringed instrument called a tanpura. That wash of sound that we associate with Indian music to the point of it being a Michael Meyers, “The Love Guru” cliché that’s the tanpura. It’s the sound that floats in and out on waves and provides the waterbed of swells that all the melodies ride on top of.
In the above picture, Dan is playing the sarod and the Raagini is the larger, left white box under the symbol.
The Raagini lets me have a drone in all twelve keys, plus you can fine-tune it if your instrument isn’t right at A440. For you musicians it provides the root of the key, say C, then you can add the fifth (G), fourth (F) or a major seventh (B). It will do that in all twelve keys.
(Adapted from Dan’s October 15, 2008 Final Note column in What’s Up.)