Celebrated duo tour new album

Slava and Leonard Grigoryan bring their new album Amistad to Geelong West Town Hall on June 7. (Supplied)

Matt Hewson

Collaboration has formed a huge part of the careers of Australian guitar greats Slava and Leonard Grigoryan.

The brothers’ new album, Amistad, is a celebration of their love of collective creation, featuring the compositions of some of the other masters of music they have worked with in the past.

“It’s kind of everything for us; Lenny and I are both very reluctant soloists, we do it occasionally, but we’re definitely much more comfortable when we’re together or when we’re surrounded by other people,” Slava said.

“That sort of music conversation is the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect of being a musician. It’s a fascinating experience and one that evolves.

“If musicians are always trying to improve, there’s never really a use-by date. It’s an ongoing journey, and collaboration is a part of that.”

Slava said Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, came about when renowned Cuban classical guitarist and composer Leo Brouwer sent the brothers and email during the COVID lockdowns.

“He’s a huge name in the classical guitar world, someone whose music we’ve known and played for all of our lives,” he said.

“He got in touch… saying that he’d just heard our previous album and enjoyed it and wanted to write us a piece.

“It was very surprising, I’ve only met him a few times at festivals over the years. He’s in his 80s, he lives in Cuba, and it just came out of the blue.

“A few months later we received this beautiful piece. And then we kind of questioned, what do we do with this now?”

And so the idea of Amistad was born.

The new album forms a trilogy with the brothers previous two albums Distance (2009) and This Time (2014), both of which embrace new music, diverse influences and collaborations with their musical friends around the world.

Contributions for Amistad come from a range of musical greats, including legendary jazz guitarist Ralph Towner, Sting’s guitarist Dominic Miller and Australian neo-classical pianists Luke Howard and Nat Bartsch.

Slava, who has been signed to major labels since he was a teenager, said his wonder at the power and magic of music had never waned.

“No matter what the genre, it’s just the most beautiful, evocative language,” he said.

“It’s a way of communicating, a way of expressing very profound emotion, excitement, energy.

“The thing that speaks to me the most is that magic that can happen, especially in live performance. Being in the moment, everyone knowing that’s it; we just heard it, we just played, we’ve had this experience and next time it’ll be different, it won’t be exactly the same.

“We’re really proud of the pieces these incredible musicians have composed and we hope to try to convey some of their musical language and share it with audiences.”

Slava and Leonard Grigoryan’s show Amistad is at Geelong West Town Hall on June 7.