"Sometime in the early 1990s, I wrote a piece for Musician magazine about how instrumental music is like reading a book, and how a song with lyrics is like watching a movie," Liebert said during a telephone interview with The Park Record from his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "With a book, you read about a tree, and that tree is completely abstract until you imagine it. And almost every single reader of the book will interpret the tree in a different way. But if you see a tree in a movie, you see the director's imagination. All you have to do is sit back and take it in."
Park City audiences will get the opportunity to see their own trees when Ottmar Liebert and his band Luna Negra perform at the Egyptian Theatre on Aug. 29 and 30. The concert will include an array of instrumental music culled from Liebert's two new albums, "Bare Wood" and "305," as well as others culled from the five-time Grammy Award-nominee's 25-year career.
Liebert is looking forward to the Park City concert.
"Since we have two new albums out that have different sounds, we will perform both styles," Liebert said.
"Bare Wood" is a collection of songs that Liebert has recorded and released on the SSRI label since 2000, and instead of reasserting the tracks he rerecorded stripped-down versions.
"I didn't want do a regular compilation and thought about making a woodsy organic album," Liebert said. "The album features flamenco guitar, an upright bass and a cajón, a percussion box from Peru. Then I went in and replaced solos that had been done on electric guitar and the ones that I wasn't really happy with and did them on flamenco guitar."
The song selection for "Bare Wood" wasn't a major undertaking, Liebert said.
"It wasn't anything like a deep intellectual process," he said. "I just chose songs that I thought would sound nice with upright bass."
The other album, "305," unlike "Bare Wood," was recorded with a huge array of instruments, according to Liebert.
"It has a drum kit on it and a little bit of electric guitar and electric bass, so the sound is quite different," he said.
"305" helped Liebert reconnect with the electric guitar.
"Over the years, that had atrophied in my head, because I didn't like playing with a pick," he said. "I thought the sound digitally was awful.
"But then a year or two ago, I searched for a new amp and came up with a small Mesa Boogie with a 10-inch speaker," Liebert said. "I could switch it to five watts of power with a tube amp and it put out an amazing sound."
So, Liebert plugged the electric guitar directly into the amp and began with his fingers.
"I discovered just like on the flamenco guitar, there is so many ways to produce sound on an electric guitar if you don't use a pick," he said. "You can play with the fleshy part of your thumb or your fingers, instead. So that all became part of the album."
Recording both albums at the same time was an interesting project, according to Liebert.
"On one hand I was working on '305,' which was a additive process where we would add parts to the songs," he said. "The 'Bare Wood' album was a subtractive process. We would start out with a song that was already recorded and then take away parts of it. And it was interesting to see what was really necessary and what wasn't necessary for the songs, and it was nice to approach the album from that direction."
The concert at the Egyptian Theatre will mirror the two albums.
"We play two halves in the concert and the first half is comprised of 'Bare Wood' material, and the second half will be '305' half and we play all of our usual instruments," Liebert explained. "It's nice to have these two halves and it seems the audience enjoys them as well, because they're getting a bit of history with our organic, older sound and our modern style."
The show will be bookended by two versions of a song called "Fire Opal."
"The original version was a bolero, a slow ballad, and we recorded it first for 'Bare Wood,'" Liebert said. "Then at some point, I realized if I sped it up, it would make a fun, modern rumba. So, we recorded another version for '305' and it turned out to be the perfect connection between the two albums.
"When we play in Park City, the acoustic version will start the concert and the rumba version will end it," he said. "They are so different in their interpretations, that I don't think a lot of people will know they are the same song."
Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra will perform at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Friday, Aug. 29, and Saturday, Aug. 30. Both concerts will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $60 and are available by visiting www.parkcityshows.com.