I used to see Ribot play at the same club as I did, performing with an R&B horn band. He would strum rhythm on his Barney Kessel Gibson until it came time for his solo, and then mouth the pick to play blistering lines with his classically trained fingers. I lost track of him for a few years, after which he emerged playing a Telecaster with a new skronky style. Watch this before they take it down.
One of the younger modern guitar maestros, Anthony Pirog knows nothing of stylistic limitations—his music is beyond category, embracing not only jazz, but avant-garde and indie rock, free improvisation, electronic sound, and ambient soundscapes.
Pirog has himself established with his work as one-half of the duo Janel & Anthony, the electric jazz improvisational Five Times Surprise, the classic DC-scene twang inspired Music From The Anacostia Delta, and the exciting trio Messthetics, with Brendan Canty and Joe Lally, the rhythmic section from Fugazi.
His new solo record, Pocket Poem, features the same musicians as 2015’s Palo Colorado Dream: acoustic bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Ches Smith. For this trio record Pirog wanted to layer the compositions with sounds created using modern technology and vintage guitar synthesizers. All of which and more we discuss here.
As I said about their travel-size instrument in my NAMM 2020 report: “This is what an acoustic guitar from future might look like. FreeBoost Technology on the pickups uses rear surface of the guitar as a speaker, complete with reverb, delay, and chorus, all without an amp.” Now Lava has come out with a full size version with tap tempo and a 50% solo boost. At $800 the mini-ME seemed a bit dear for a travel sized guitar but at around $1400, the Pro seems well within, er, pro pricing. As I also said then, it is great to see something truly new in the acoustic realm. Again, we have the lovely and talented Mary Spender to demo it.
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!
October 16, 2020 is a banner day for modern guitar releases. Two new generation legends in the making, Mike Baggetta and Anthony Pirog have albums dropping. Baggetta’s band mssv (with Mike Watt and Stephen Hodges) is also doing a live stream tonight under the aegis of the much-missed Big Ears Festival. Look for interviews with both artists at guitarmoderne.com soon. Subscribe so you don’t miss them.