The leader of the world fusion group Ancient Future, Matthew Montfort, released his first solo recording, ‘Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar’ in 2009. He is a pioneer among guitarists who have had their fretboards scalloped in order to play various forms of world music that require intricate note-bending ornaments while still being able to play chords.
Montfort immersed himself in an intensive study with veena master K.S. Subramanian in order to fully apply the South Indian gamaka (note-bending) techniques to the guitar. The December 2009 Les Paul issue of Guitar Player Magazine includes a full page feature on Matthew Montfort with a corresponding GuitarPlayer.Com video and lesson entitled “The Music of Jimi Hendrix Applied to Indian Raga.”
He has performed concerts worldwide, from the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain to the Festival of India in Mumbai. He has worked with many world music legends, including tabla phenomenon Zakir Hussain and Chinese zither master Zhao Hui.
Montfort wrote the book “Ancient Traditions – Future Possibilities: Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India,” which has been used by many musicians to improve their rhythm skills.
The music of Ancient Future is a fusion of rhythms and exotic sounds featuring virtuoso musicians from around the globe. Their music combines contemporary jazz and rock with the rhythms of Africa, Bali, India, the Middle East and South America, the rich harmonies of European classical music, and the melodic knowledge of the whole world.
Formed in 1978, Ancient Future is one of the first and longest running musical organization dedicated exclusively to the mission of creating world fusion music.
Two of the founding members, Matthew Montfort and Benjy Wertheimer, were childhood friends in Boulder, Colorado, who dreamed of forming a band together.
In the summer of 1977, Wertheimer and Montfort arrived to Northern California to study North Indian classical music at the Ali Akbar College of Music. There they met the members of the Diga Rhythm Band (an offshoot of the Grateful Dead featuring tabla master Zakir Hussain, Mickey Hart, and Jerry Garcia), moved into the house that the group rehearsed in, and formed a new band including Diga Rhythm Band members Tor Dietrichson, Jim Loveless, Ray Spiegel, and Arshad Syed.
The new band rehearsed at the Grateful Dead studio and performed a number of concerts before splitting up into two groups: a Latin band, and the world fusion music group Ancient Future. Ancient Future can therefore be thought of as having formed as an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot of the Grateful Dead.
The original members of Ancient Future studied with the master musicians of many world music traditions, from Balinese gamelan director Mad? Gerindem to North Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan. They used their knowledge of world music to create something new and uniquely their own that is respected by pundits from the cultures whose traditions are a part of the mix.
Over the years, Ancient Future has expanded its musical vision through collaborations with master musicians from more than two dozen countries, cultures, and musical traditions who are now an integral part of what is today more than just a band.
Ancient Future has grown to become a large multinational music ensemble with many smaller ensembles within it, enabling Ancient Future to realize its core mission of creating world fusion music.
Ancient Future has released seven full length studio CDs selling over 150,000 units: Visions of a Peaceful Planet, Natural Rhythms, Quiet Fire, Dreamchaser, World Without Walls, Asian Fusion, and Planet Passion. Over one million legal mp3 files from three of these releases on Ancient-Future.Com Records have been distributed commercially. This of course does not count files distributed illegally (Ancient Future’s leader, Matthew Montfort, was selected as the proposed Class Representative for Independent Musicians Against Napster due to the large number of Ancient Future files being traded illegally). Ancient Future has also recorded two live CDs and a video (for release on DVD) of a live concert featuring four different versions of the band.
Ancient Future has performed over a thousand shows worldwide, headlining such venues as Carnegie Recital Hall (New York City), Great American Music Hall (San Francisco), Hult Center for the Performing Arts (Eugene), Yoshi’s (Oakland), Sangeetha Indian Music Concert Series (St. Louis), and even a night club called Atlantis in Beirut, Lebanon, with a Piranha tank in the middle of the dance floor and a bar that doubles as an aquarium.
They have appeared at every type of festival imaginable including the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra (near Barcelona, Spain), Asian/Pacific Festival of Fortune, Northwest Regional Folklife Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Sand Harbor Jazz Festival, California WorldFest, Monterey World One, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, and the Summer of Love 30th Anniversary in Golden Gate Park.
Dance versions of the band have pumped up dance crowds at techno/DJ events such as the Groove Garden and Harmony Festival’s Techno Tribal Dance with their 100% organic loop-free grooves.
* Visions of a Peaceful Planet (1979, Ancient-Future.Com 2004)
Pioneering world fusion act Ancient Future is set to perform on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at Trinity Chapel in Berkeley. The concert will feature guitarist Matthew Montfort, tabla master Vishal Nagar, and Mariah Parker on piano and santur.