The Donny Lama Trio
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The Donny Lama Trio

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Donny Lama Trio performs every Tuesday at the Mercury Cafe´ By Denver Live Music Bar Scene, Sebastian

Mitch Chmara’s left hand looked like a blurred penta-tentacled cephalopod as he raced up and down the guitar. The appendage moved with dizzying celerity and remarkable technique and the sounds unleashed were both mesmerizing and frightening. On the same stage, bassist Kim Stone (of Rippingtons and Spyro Gyra fame) and drummer Kevin Smith spun a web to support the preponderance of Chmara’s seemingly bottomless well of musical ideas and styles. Only at the end of the night was it possible to really consider the music that the Donny Lama Trio had performed. From the first searing wail of Chmara’s turquoise Stratocaster to the final cymbal vibration from Smith’s drums, there was precious little time to weigh in on what was happening. Donny Lama travels with furious fervor through a diverse array of styles that homogenizes elements of jazz, blues, atonal, metal and classical music into a heavy and often acrid preparation that is not always easy to listen to, but impossible to ignore. Minutes before taking the stage, Stone scrawled down a set list, but it was merely a scaffolding. Recognizable melodic themes popped up now and then, but the essence of Donny Lama is purely improvisational. An otherworldly and metallic rendition of Monk’s Well You Needn’t began at high speed and morphed into utter chaos before dissolving into a psychedelic bluesy version of Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, which also eventually melted into the next number, and so and so forth. This is by no means attention deficit disorder music. Donny Lama extends a dearth of the aural sympathy that friendlier music lends its listeners. Keep up, or get left behind. The Chicago-born Chmara’s style is Hendrix meets Joe Pass meets George Benson meets Denver Live Music Bar Scene Sebastian Albu To see more, visit us at examiner.com. Joe Satriani meets Bach. In these days of ubiquitous musical fusion to the point of dilution, Chmara stands out as a truly unique chimera with many formidable musical heads. In the Donny Lama Trio, he is a guitarist’s guitarist and his playing, for lack of a better word, is very heady stuff. Chmara’s wizardry is dazzling and flamboyant, yet his chord voicings are incredibly deep and subtle. When he reaches into his bag of tricks he can be simultaneously engaging or alienating. Each of the eight people in the room wore a different expression on their face ranging from deep concentration to awe and confusion and perhaps even a little frustration. Yet, they stayed and listened. That is testament to the magnetic nature of Donny Lama’s music, which sometimes feels like the scene of a gruesome accident--a grisly sight to behold, but one that is powerful enough to draw everyone’s attention to itself and leave a lasting impression on all who are present. The Donny Lama Trio performs every Tuesday at the Mercury Cafe. from 9:30pm to midnight. - By Denver Live Music Bar Scene, Sebastian


Discography

CD - The Donny Lama Trio
released 2009

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Bio

The Donny Lama Trio is a wonderful mix of traditional and modern flavors in today's jazz music. The excellent improvisational synergy among these great musicians resounds during their performances making them a favorite with the ever increasing jazz community.

Kim Stone - Bass: Kim has just finished an 18 year run with the Rippingtons, recording 15 CD's with them. Kim also played bass for the modern jazz group Spyro Gyra for four years, (1983 - 1987), recording six CD's. Spyro Gyra was a leading force in the jazz/rock fusion in the 70's and 80's known for their high-energy performances. Kim was the composer of the song Bob Goes To The Store, which was selected by Spyro Gyra as the featured video from their Breakout CD. It was included on Spyro Gyra's recent release of The best Of Spyro Gyra (The First Ten Years). Kim received five Grammy nominations for four recordings with Spyro Gyra and one with the jazz vocal group Rare Silk.
Kim's credits includes playing and Recording with such greats as B.B. King, The Rippingtons, Larry Carlton, Javon Jackson, David Amram Eric Marienthal, Taj mahal,Dave Valentine, Jessica Williams and Firefall. His extensive performing experience includes; multiple appearances at the Montreux, North Sea, Newport, Kool, JVC and Playboy Jazz festivals as well as numerous nationwide tours of the U.S., Europe and South East Asia.

Mitch Chmara - Guitar: Guitarist for The Donny Lama Trio first instrument was a bowl back mandolin that he played during visits as a child to his grandparent's house in Chicago. This mandolin magically removed the boredom of such visits. He was also paid as much as 35 cents plus all the popsicles he could eat for his performances. This instrument eventually led to Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Joe Pass, Johhny Smith and Johhny Cash. All of whom influnced Mitch on his musical journey. He also lists jazz saxophone legends Eddie Harris, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker as some of his influences. Mitch has studied under Ted Greene the author of Chord Chemistry the definitive guitar manuel. Mitch has played with many of the premiere bands in Colorado as well as with such national artists as Richie Cole, Joey Defrancesco, Howard Roberts, The Drifters, Lannie Garrett, Sam Most and Joe Bonner to name a few.

Kevin Smith - Drums and Percussion: Kevin has been a professional musician for 35 years. He started playind guitar and drums at the age of 5, not surprising considering his musical heritage. His grandmother, a musical protege´ played Carnegie Hall at the age of 11 and his father owned Taylor's Supper Club, a Denver hot spot for local and national musicians. Kevin first played with Kim Stone when they were both 13 while they were growing up in the Denver area. Since that time Kevin has played or recorded with Bill Cosby, Robben Ford,
Tom Harrell, Johnny Smith, Billy Tolles, Joe Bonner, Frank Sinatra Jr., Charlie Pride, John Abercrombie and many others. Kevin has also had the pleasure of playing for President Jimmy Carter at his Inaugural Ball.