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International Guitar Night finds the sweet spot

Guitar masters unite in acoustic revelry performing original pieces

Brazilian jazz master Diego Figuierido performs at the Rialto Theater Feb. 27.

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If you think the height of guitar music is a stoner's curbside rendition of "Wish You Were," then prepare to have your mind blown. (Seriously - why does every guitarist learn "Wish You Were Here" fresh out of the gate? What's wrong with a little "Bourrée in E Minor?") The Broadway Center for the Performing Arts is serving up an evening of six-string wizardry, brought to you by some of the finest git-axe pickers from around the world. True, there's no Eddie Van Halen or Tom Morello in the IGN lineup, but we can assure you its artists' lack of household name recognition is undeserved. Take Andrew York, for example, who boasts a Grammy win (with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet), over a dozen CDs and a spot on Rhino Records' Legends of Guitar. Check out his rendition of Bach's "Cello Suite in C Major" for the Gitarissimo Festival in Oberhausen, Germany, available on YouTube. His work evokes the resonant sophistication of a much more voluminous instrument. It's gorgeous.

You might find yourself becoming an overnight fanboy for Brazil's Diego Figueiredo, who won the VISA Prize and Montreux Jazz Competition. His rendition of "Autumn Leaves" is almost harp-like, with sweet melodic notes augmented by lightning-fast finger rolls. His soulful precision on "India" would demoralize any amateur guitarist. Luckily, he picks us back up again with an upbeat take on the jazz standard "Stella by Starlight."

Then there's Maneli Jamal, who was born in Belarus and is of Iranian descent. Jamal lived in five countries before he turned 18, and his tastes reflect global citizenship. Due to issues with U.S. Immigration, he and his family wound up in Canada with only what they could carry. He traveled the Western Hemisphere with nothing but the guitar he received for his 16th birthday. Since then, he's toured Europe, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, with a sojourn in Toronto's Harbourfront Centre to take first in the Soundclash Awards. When he plays his composition "Most Glorious Day," you'd swear you were listening to at least two guitarists and a drummer. Nope: all him.

Brian Gore is a San Francisco-based guitar innovator, whose work exudes the sun-dappled spirit of California's fabled wine region. Gore founded the International Guitar Night in 1995. He's revered by guitar geeks for his use of multiple capos, along with slapping, tapping, and other percussive attacks on the body and neck of the guitar, as described in his 2005 instructional book Fingerstyle Guitar: Lessons in Technique and Creativity. If you think you know what an axe can do, check out his "Hinge Fringe" or "Stone Haulers." Then, chill to the sweet harmonics of "Chief Solano's Journey." Los Angeles Times critic John Henken aptly described Gore as having "a characterful bounce and spaciousness all his own." His "Whiter Shade of Pale" will bring tears to your eyes. Man ... imagine what that guy could do to "Wish You Were Here."

INTERNATIONAL GUITAR NIGHT, 7:30 p.m. Fri., Feb. 27, Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, $32-$55, 253.591.5894

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