Apps are becoming a major part of music’s future. It started with iPhone and iPad app developers creating abbreviated versions of the same software musicians used on computers. Now developers find themselves converting some of the more creative, original apps into software for laptops and towers. Accessing the best of both worlds—powerful computer software and cutting edge apps—requires combining laptop and tablet into a seamless music production/performance rig. The iConnectAUDIO4+ has arrived just in time to facilitate this ambition.
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Record Picks is a periodic offering from Guitar Moderne: a listing of recordings brought to my attention that I feel are momentous enough to bring to yours. These are not reviews. Feel free to submit recordings, but they must be purchasable worldwide, reflective of modern guitar (again subjective, but no blues, classic rock, country, etc.) and on a par with the ones below to rate a mention. Many of these are available from DMG in NYC.
Andy Sheppard Quartet Surrounded By Sea [ECM]
Sheppard’s current trio with Michel Benita, and the amazing Seb Rochford is augmented by Eivind Aarset on this gorgeous record.
B.B. King in Guitar Moderne? Hell yeah. He did more to modernize the sound of the blues than any other guitarist. King refined the sound of the electric guitar, finding that sweet spot where it drove the tubes and achieved the sustain of a horn, without distorting into unintelligibility. King mashed up elements of big band swing, Django Reinhardt’s gypsy fire, with some be-bop sophistication, all without ever losing the power of the genre’s simpler folk roots.
King was a student of music, working with instruction books during long trips on the road—and there were a lot of long trips on the road. It was this hidden well of sophistication that allowed him to often interject an amazing modern jazz run in the midst of the melodic call and response licks he used to tell his story.
Blues revivalists who mimic his style note for note are not his offspring. His children are players like Robben Ford, Joe Bonamassa, Mat Schofield, and Josh Smith, who start with his lessons and add modern touches of their own.
If Guitar Moderne is about moving the art of guitar forward, B.B. certainly deserves to be here. RIP Riley B King.
Catalinbread is rapidly becoming one of those companies, like Electro-Harmonix and Earthquaker, whose product line consistently reflects a combination of weirdly wonderful new tones for modern guitarists, along with fresh takes on classic tones. Their Antichthon ($169.99) and Talisman ($209.99) models represent that combination admirably.
The potential of the pedal steel guitar is criminally under utilized. If you are unfamiliar with the pedal steel, check out my short history here. This complex and gorgeous sounding instrument is too often restricted to playing country music clichés. Though country steel can be heartbreakingly beautiful and some players have explored its jazz capabilities, all too few have investigated more modern uses for this harmonically rich instrument. Susan Alcorn is one of those few. Fully versed in the country tradition she has traversed new paths with the pedal steel, applying its singular attributes (contrary motion string bending, volume swells, natural sustain) to everything from free improvisation to Astor Piazzolla.