Many of this year’s picks were recorded before 2020, for obvious reasons. Works by veterans (Sharp, Alcorn, Björkenheim) joined some newer voices (Naylor, Yalvaç, Gargaud) in offering us quality distractions from a nightmarish year. If you hear anything you like, please purchase something from the artist. With touring off the table, times are tougher than usual for experimental artists.
Catching up on a bunch of new releases. The variety and personality of modern guitarists continues to astound me, from Mary Halvorson’s angular smears to Xander Taylor’s Indian excursions. Ambitious well executed all. Stay safe and VOTE!
On Terje Rypdal’s 73th birthday, I wanted to let you know about an amazing 6 CD boxed set from 10 years ago. I consider myself a big fan of the Norwegian guitarist, yet until recently was unaware of this collection of live trio performances (with the occasional guest), Very Much Alive. Perhaps because it was released as a Paolo Vinaccia project on Jazzland , rather than ECM.
Modern electric guitar music has, at times, suffered from bouts of sameness. Employing techniques pioneered over a half century ago by Derek Bailey and Fred Frith, guitarists fanatically avoid repetitive rhythmic and/or melodic motifs and use similar preparations, to the point where they all sound virtually identical. Perhaps the form had to go through growing pains.
More recently, whether due to more schooled guitarists entering the field with wider technical skills and musical tastes, or the many new processors that allow a wealth of distinctive tones, a plethora of players, from all over the world, are creating personal voices within this idiom. The records here, solo and band, emanate from Italy, Argentina, and the US, each with its own approach to modern guitar performance.
Though live music shows are starting again, it is with limited audiences—hence limited money, so it would help these artists if you were to buy their recordings. Also, it will give you something to do all while we all wait this out.
The new releases are piling up. Though live music shows are starting again, it is with limited audiences—hence limited money, so it would help these artists if you were to buy their recordings. Also, it will give you something to do all while we all wait this out.