Top Records of 2015

The past year was a banner one for modern guitar.There were many notable records by artists covered in Guitar Moderne and others. Here, in no particular order are some of the highlights.

Raoul Björkenheim Out of the Blue [Cuneiform]

Raoul made the list last year and this year’s release is equally stellar.

Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell The Celestial Squid [Cuneiform]

Henry, Ray & Co meld arranged jazz with freeform playing in as seemless away as I have ever heard.

Adam Rudolph Go: Organic Guitar Orchestra Turning Toward The Light [Cuneiform]

Nels Cline, Rez Abbazi, Liberty Ellman, David Gilmore, Miles Okazaki and more. Look for my interview with Rudolph soon.

Sonar Black Light [Cuneiform]

Yes, the fourth record on Cuneiform to make the list. This label out of Maryland just happens to release some of the best modern guitar records today. This tune is from Sonar’s last record but it will give you an idea of the band’s sound.

Andy Sheppard Surrounded by Sea [ECM]

One of my favorite guitarists joins one of my favorite drummers and one of my favorite bassists for this Shepard outing.

David Torn Only Sky [ECM]

Got to see Mr. Torn twice on his tour supporting this masterpiece. Part Two of the epic Torn interview series coming shortly (no, really).

Eivind Aarset EI [Jazzland]

Eivind rocks out. Read the interview here.

Food This Is Not A Miracle [ECM]

Food meets Fennesz again.

Reeves Gabrels & His Imaginary Friends Reeves Gabrels & His Imaginary Friends [Bandcamp]

A Nashvillian for years (now Londener) Gabrels & Co. played a killer gig in Music City before the guitarist embarked on a long tour with his new band: The Cure.

Michael Gregory Jackson After Before [CD Baby]

Jackson has been pushing the modern guitar envelope for decades and his latest shows he hasn’t lost a step. Like Hendrix, his modernistic leanings are firmly rooted in a blues base.

Scott Henderson Vibe Station [CD Baby]

Henderson puts the fun in fusion and is always pushing the tone envelope. Read my Guitar Player interview here.

Best Roots Moderne

Billy Gibbons and the BFG’s Perfectamundo [Concord Records]

Gibbons has always been a modernist. He has employed hip-hop grooves, loops, and electronica textures on ZZ Top records for years, well after the Eliminator period.

Ambrosia Parsley Weeping Cherry [Barbes Records]

Parsley (claims it’s her real name) was in a great band called Shivaree that proffered much the same combination of vintage pop, euro-sophistication, and roots moderne guitar.

Ted Drozdowski and the Scissormen Love & Life [Dolly Sez Woof Recordings]

Though a blues scholar, Drozdowski is not hidebound by tradition. This record adds a psychedelic attitude to great storytelling, to push blues into the future.


Best Reissues

Sonny Sharrock Ask the Ages [Mod Technologies]

Sharrock, Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders, and Charnett Moffett. If you have been meaning to check out this guitarist, start here.


2 thoughts on “Top Records of 2015

  1. I am ridiculously honor to be on this list along with some of my very favorite gutiarists—Henry Kaiser, David Torn, Reeves Gabrels… Thank you so much for you generosity, support and, of course, excellent taste… – Ted

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