Harry Pepl: The One That Almost Got Away

I discovered Harry Pepl’s unique guitar approach on the Enrico Rava/Dino Saluzzi record Volver [ECM] in 1986 (a must listen). His chorused sound and fluidity were reminiscent of Metheny, but his attack was harder and his sensibility was decidedly more “out.” I loved it and searched the ECM site for more records with his playing on them. I found Cracked Mirrors, his outing with Herbert Joos and John Christiansen, but to my dismay it was only available in Europe. Now, thanks to the glorious fact that (almost) the entire ECM catalog is available for streaming, I am able to experience that record. Unfortunately, ECM has not seen fit to make Werner Pirchner, Harry Pepl, Jack DeJohnette available for some reason (though it is available on YouTube). There are other Pepl recordings to be found on both Spotify and Apple Music. Check out “Cracked Mirror” to hear how his playing in 1988 sounds fresh even today.

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Switchable Fretboard Guitar

I recently received and email from guitarist Fernando Perez. His work adapting the music from all over the world to the guitar is very interesting, but not in the usual Guitar Moderne wheelhouse. More relevant is his microtonal work, and his collaboration with luthier Jose de Prados on a guitar with interchangeable fretboards, allowing you to instantly switch from a standard fret system, to fretless or any microtonal system you choose. There have been and are others venturing into this field, especially in the microtonal field but Perez and Prados appear to have come up with something workable.

Also a nice introduction to other microtonal guitar solutions:

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Shawn Persinger’s Epic Project: Halloween Baptizm

Just in time for the holiday that inspired its name, comes Shawn Persinger’s Halloween Baptizm. A problem with much “guitar music” is that it is too much “guitar” and not enough “music.” Much as I love the idiosyncratic nature of the instrument, other than noise-based or ambient guitar, I prefer guitars playing music I can imagine being performed just easily on piano, horns, strings, or vocals. Shawn Persinger’s Halloween Baptizm is just such music. As I listen to him play the overdubbed parts on 6-string, 12-string, nylon-string, and bass, I can easily picture a string quartet of viola, violin, cello, and bass playing these themes.

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