Trey Gunn (13 December 1960)
Having been a long-serving member of the League of Crafty Guitarists, a member of Sunday All Over The World, and an integral part of Sylvian & Fripp, it was not a surprise that Trey Gunn was asked to be part of the new King Crimson in 1994. However, his departure just under a decade later in 2003, did come as a shock to many Crimson fans.
With Tony Levin designated to rejoin the band in October 2003, Gunn handed in his resignation after the end of the European tour earlier in the year. However, Levin wasn't free and Crimson’s management asked Gunn to return. His initial impulse was to say no but, after some determined financial negotiations, he signed up for the American tour on wages as a sideman.
The tour was arguably one of the most powerful of the period, with several gigs reaching outstanding levels of energy and Gunn’s contributions as savage and as incisive as they ever were, earning every cent he’d negotiated and more. After the band’s run of rapturously received gigs in Mexico City which marked the end of the year’s commitments, Gunn publicly announced his departure.
For fans who’d started out wondering what Gunn did in the Double Trio and then been ever more impressed by his distinctive contributions to the ProjeKcts and the latest Crimson, his decision to leave came as a complete surprise. “Earlier this year, at the inevitability of the closing of this phase of my musical life, I spent some time looking back. I thought back to the original aims I had as a young musician. And much to my surprise, I discovered that I have realised them. They were simply and elegantly stated to myself at the time: I want to play with the best musicians on the planet and make the most powerful and unusual music possible. I have done that. And done it with this band: King Crimson. And I don’t need to just keep on doing it over and over again.”
With a string of exceptionally creative albums released under his own name and as The Trey Gunn Band, Gunn formed the multi-media project Quodia with Joe Mendelson, and in 2007, they released The Arrow: A Story In Seven Parts (CD/DVD). “It was a multi-media performing project with storytelling, film and integrated live music,” Gunn told Ultimate Guitar in 2016. “It didn’t quite take off. It was very powerful but we were a little early on the curve. I was a little impinged by my Crimson history because we would show up to do gigs and people really wanted to see me wheedle-wheedle on the guitar. Also the venues weren’t really set up to bring in multi-media at the time and that project kind of fell apart.”
Along with Pat Mastelotto, Gunn formed KTU with Finnish accordion legend Kimmo Pohjonen. Their live work and their 2009 album Quiver gained widespread praise with the Guardian saying, “tracks such as Nano question the conventions of guitar rock with the irony and skill we expect from King Crimson alumni Gunn and Mastelotto. But it’s the tracks Womb and Purga that make best use of Pohjonen’s artistry.”
Back in 2007, Gunn joined forces with Eddie Jobson’s project UKZ, formed in the wake of a faltering UK reunion with John Wetton. The quintet, featuring drummer Marco Minnemann and guitarist Alex Machecek, released an EP, Radiation, recorded entirely by file-sharing without any of the musicians meeting. UKZ made their live debut at New York City’s Town Hall in January 2009 to coincide with the release of Radiation.
From exploring some more traditional progressive rock areas with Eddie Jobson, Gunn went on to join The Security Project in 2012. Formed by Jerry Marotta, with whom Gunn had worked with on the Sylvian Fripp album The First Day, the band tours and celebrates the music of Peter Gabriel’s first four albums. To date they have notched up four official releases. Gunn is also a member of the Deep Energy Orchestra whose album Playing With Fire was released in 2018. An eight-piece band that includes string players, tabla, electric violin, electric bass and percussion, the band combines traditional Indian music, jazz, classical and progressive rock. In 2019, the band collaborated with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. Maintaining his 7d record label, Gunn offers musical and performance coaching and has run many touch guitar workshops.
Trey Gunn in King Crimson
The ConstruKction Of Light (2000)
The Power To Believe (2003)