My years of making music in New York City coincided at various times with Elliott Sharp’s. Our musical worlds, however, rarely overlapped. I was playing blues and country music; accompanying singer-songwriters, both struggling and famous; and playing in pop bands that were trying to get record deals (my more avant-garde efforts would come later). Elliott, on the other hand, was at the nexus of all the art that was pushing the envelope during that period, and is still to this day. I never saw him perform live or met him until shortly before I left New York to move to Nashville in 2012, and then it was in a wonderful duo performance with Mary Halvorson.
My grateful thanks to Henry Kaiser, a modern guitar pioneer himself, for taking time to review the new book on modern guitar icon Keith Rowe. —mr
Three guitarists in the 20th Century made unprecedented and giant leaps in technique, personal expression, improvisation, and musical conception. Sonny Sharrock, Derek Bailey, and Keith Rowe each introduced innovations that were to become bedrock upon which most of the guitarists covered in Guitar Moderne built their careers.
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.
I rarely write about books, perhaps because there are few coming out that seem to fit the GM format. Still, two relatively recent publications should be of interest to modern guitarists.
Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom, Before 1970 by David Toop [Bloomsbury Publishing] If you haven’t read Toop’s Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds, stop reading this and buy it immediately. For that matter if you care about modern music at all make sure you get around to all of his books. Into the Maelstrom is his long awaited first installment about the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise). His erudite discussion leans towards England and Europe, but then so did much of the free improv scene. His personal relationship with many of the players makes the reading that much more interesting.
I put a year of my life into this book
and Hal Leonard completely dropped the ball on selling it (no ads, no reviews, not in bookstores or music stores). It is, however available on Amazon worldwide.
I implore all my subscribers and readers to check it out for themselves and/or recommend it to their students, friends, family, or anyone (it is not just for guitarists) they know who wants a comprehensive introduction to the world of effects with a CD demoing each sound. End of pitch. Thanks.