John was one of my first modern guitar heroes. His style drew on masters like Wes and Jim Hall while pushing the boundaries of sound, melody, and harmony further. He was one of the first to experiment with guitar synthesizer, but quickly abandoned it. Here is a personal remembrance.
Five years ago, I found myself scouring YouTube for videos of guitarists like Nels Cline, Derek Bailey, and Eivind Aarset. I was amazed at how much was available and how those videos led to others by strange and wonderful guitarists I didn’t know. I wanted to share this find—but where? I had many guitarist friends and “friends” on Facebook, but only a small percentage of those would be interested in the avant-garde excursions of the players I enjoyed.
The man who helped inspire guitarmoderne.com takes an awesome solo at 5:25
Long considered a “Father of Electronic Music in France,” Richard Pinhas is sans doubt a pioneer in the art of mixing guitar with electronics to push the instrument’s envelope. You can get a detailed bio at his website. I took the opportunity to talk to him when he made a rare tour stop in Nashville. He candidly filled in some of the blanks in the official story, and discussed two recent releases: Process And Reality, featuring Pinhas, Tatsuya Yoshida and Masami Akita, and Mu, a project with guitarist, producer, and former Guitar Player Magazine editor Barry Cleveland.
In May of 2014 I conducted an extensive interview with David Torn in Brooklyn. I finally got it transcribed and posted in January of 2015. People have since wondered what happened to Part II.
In June of 2015, I went to the Baltimore/Washington DC area to catch two shows of David’s 2015 solo tour. On a day off between shows we met in his Baltimore hotel room for another marathon interview. I finally had it transcribed in September of 2015. Reading the transcription, I felt honored that David was comfortable enough to be extremely candid about many aspects of his life and career, but I worried that he might regret some of his more intimate revelations and opinions. Over the next year and a half I tried to figure out a way to let him edit out anything that made him uncomfortable, but a busy schedule seemed to preclude this. Ultimately, I used my own judgment in deciding what to remove and what to leave in. The result includes great stories, information about his process, gear, and the health issues that he has made public—plus a bonanza of newly posted video, including some of him playing with talented his son Elijah B. Enjoy.
Henry Kaiser recently sent me a beautifully shot, great sounding video of Terje Rypdal playing with Elephant9. The video is not available on YouTube and is more Elephant9 than Rypdal (though he has a stellar moment here and there). In searching for available videos of him with that band, I found most were low quality, but I also found this video of Rypdal live in Oslo in 2015. This is essentially the same band I saw in New York in 2012 minus the trumpet. Ståle Storløkken Hammond on organ electric piano, synthesizer is from Elephant9. Paolo Vinaccia plays drums and hilarious samples. Terje Rypdal had his 69th birthday last month and so a belated Happy Birthday.