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Frank Gambale (LA Special)

Frank Gambale (LA Special)
March 15, 2008 | Author: Greg Phillips

frankgambale1Frank Gambale is one of those Australian gems that gets nowhere near the credit he deserves. Perhaps it’s because he’s a quiet unassuming type or maybe it’s because the brand of music he plays is challenging rather than mainstream. Whatever the reason, readers need to know that Frank is one of the world’s most innovative and creative guitarists and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least investigate Gambale’s career and listen to some of his music.

It was with a great deal of joy that I discovered Frank was the headlining act at the Baked Potato club the night I chose to visit. Gambale has played with many of the world’s music greats including Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Jean Luc Ponty and Alan Holdsworth. He first came to LA as a student at the famous Guitar Institute of Technology, graduated with honours and now teaches there. He came to prominence in the guitar world in the 80s due his amazing ‘sweep picking’ playing  technique. Frank is a prolific songwriter, has released over 20 recordings and even won a Grammy. His 2004 album Raison d’Etre features the unique Frank Gambale twin neck guitar that Yamaha has built for him.  He was playing the guitar at the club tonight and explained the guitar’s amazing features.

“I have invented a new guitar tuning which could catch on as a new standard tuning,” said Gambale. “It only took me 40 years to discover it! I have always been envious of the piano player who can play any combination of chords, but more specifically, close voiced chords. If you play one key next to the other on the piano, that interval on guitar requires a big stretch. Put three together, then you can forget it on the guitar…well, not anymore. I can create any five note keyboard voicing easily with the new tuning called Gambale Tuning. I had Yamaha build me a double neck guitar so that I could have both the standard and the Gambale tunings available. My album Raison D’etre, which can be downloaded on my website was where I introduced it a few years back.”

Yamaha and Frank are currently trading guitar prototypes in readiness for the release of another instrument, a single neck signature series Gambale guitar, most likely to be launched at Winter NAMM  2009. “There’s a couple of little mods to do still but essentially it’s where it needs to be. Probably one more prototype should do it. You guys are in for a treat … it’s the best guitar I have ever been involved with,” said Gambale.

Frank seemed to be at home at the Baked Potato and had plenty of friends and fans in the audience. “The Baked Potato is like playing in someone’s living room, he said of the club. “I have played here since about 1983. I love the atmosphere … it’s tiny but it’s a fun place to try out new material and otherwise have fun playing. The LA club scene seems vibrant with always a ton of music happening.”

Current releases for Gambale include a DVD from Alfred Publishing called ‘Acoustic Improvisation’ which includes footage of his Natural High Trio in concert as well as an hour dedicated to concepts on building interesting and melodic lines. There’s also a live CD, ‘Made In Australia’ featuring Virgil Donati on drums and Ric Fierabracci on bass. As for the future … “More writing, more playing, more touring, more producing, more everything … I love what I do,” says Frank. As for the rest of us, visit his website now and explore the amazing Frank Gambale.

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