IMAGE: Chris Buono will reprise his role with Karsh Kale for a one time show at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC. Expect to see him onstage with his bespoke fretless and RICK TOONE ’67 guitars. GlobalFEST on January 14, 2024.
This week exactly marks one full year of Chris Buono’s residency at Triumph Brewing Company, Redbank, NJ. I am really enjoying watching his metamorphosis up close in real time.
December 6, 2022, we headed into rehearsal together, Chris to focus his band, and me to document the start of something new and potentially great. Nervous tension and excitement in the practice space as Chris prepared to return to live performance after an extended hiatus.
December 8, 2022 was the first Triumph performance.
Fast forward one year. Chris accepted a bi-weekly residency at Triumph Brewing Company, alternating his two lineups plus a rotation of guests. He looks fully at home onstage, and the bands are completely dialed in. He has a massive trove of archived live recordings from the experience.
November 30, 2023 — the plan to fly Gabriel Levi in for a day of video shooting in my studio. He was arriving from ATL to get pre-flighted on the new RICK TOONE ’67 as he steps into tremolo. Unbeknownst to me, the two of them were conspiring.
Recording the Magnets & Wire documentary/album together in November, 2019 sparked a group friendship continuing today and growing deeper over time. Last week was the first in four years Chris and Gabriel met again in person. Their conspiracy succeeded.
Listening on my laptop now, a week later, watching cardinals and blue jays at the feeder outside in the season’s first snow flurries, I’m grateful for the recording of my two friends sharing moments on stage together. Gabriel has become a serious student of the Blues during the last six months, and it shows. His already exceptional touch on the guitar is growing into a new depth of expressive musical emotion. Chris continues his role as master musician and now mentor, as he graciously shared the stage, pivoting his cB3 trio into a supporting role.
Coastal air off the Atlantic seeps in under Sandy Hook, slyly flirting with Navesink River dampness, the extended New York metro tang of NJ Turnpike combustion and chemical refineries. Onshore, offshore. Giants to the north, Eagles to the south. Manhattan commuters. Money.
Chris Buono will flit through this mist, reaching up with (funk you) Jersey Attitude™ to grab Big Apple brass and polish it against shore prog rhythms. Triumph Brewing Company, Red Bank, New Jersey is our venue, as he prepares to take onstage residency for the next several months.
Risk is real…
He’s coming in cold, struggling—rehabilitating—excruciating left arm pain via pinched nerves in his spine. This band is total raw bar, two hours of rehearsal and digital chord charts as guidance through an improv jazz wilderness marshland.
Chris debuting two new guitars I built for him: his custom multiscale fretless “Fragile” and “Green Monster” who is also holding my tremolo. Cody McCorry is playing another build so fresh the finish is still drying: “Orchid” bass. New and unfamiliar instruments for both of these masterful players. And a chance to capture their sounds live, in the wild.
We are in this together. Tonight is opening night.
With the recording, I am seeking to capture the village vanguard intimacy of Bill Evans. Snapshot this moment. Band banter. Audience chatter, barstools and glasses. 1961 turns 2022. Killick Hinds beautifully brings his touch to the mixing and mastering. Deeply grateful we had this opportunity to work together.
Chris Buono — music & guitar
Anibal Rojas — synth sax
Cody McCorry — bass
Faye Fadem — drums
Killick Hinds — mixing & mastering
Rick Toone — recording & production
“If I died right now I would want you to show the world ‘Raining Caterpillars’ and say this what I truly sounded like when I was dialed in. For that I’m indebted to you both.” (Chris Buono)
Chris Buono is battling pinched nerve spinal issues caused (in part) by years of tortured ergonomic playing posture. The resulting neuropathy brings on debilitating chronic pain and numbness extending from his left shoulder all the way down to his thumb.
This is a recurring theme I’ve seen in many players to various degrees, throughout my career. The solution involves better instrument design.
Our priority was threefold…
First, design an instrument focused on posture correction to help relive discomfort, allowing Chris to continue to work as he heals. Second, to help prevent or at least greatly diminish future nerve inflammation issues. We want to keep Chris healthy so he can continue his career for decades to come.
Equally importantly, the guitar will simultaneously extend his formidable fretless technique into new territory.
Fretless guitar is extraordinarily difficult to master. A player must have the skilled intonation of a classical stringed instrument musician—violin, viola, cello—plus the added ability to precisely form chords.
The reward for mastery is supreme expressiveness.
Yesterday I was treated to a private test flight when we met in his studio to debut the new guitar. Running straight into a hot-rodded vintage Marshall, one of the first things he played was EVH’s Panama solo. Absolutely mesmerizing to watch.
Chris is going to be dangerous on this machine.
Total game changer. (Chris Buono)
This is the single best piece of “functional art” I have ever seen. AMAZING.
(Steve Pucciarelli: Reactive Neuro Physical Advancement Center)