Leo Abrahams has led what is possibly the ideal modern guitarist’s life: touring Russia performing improvised solo shows through a laptop; playing with Brian Eno AND Bryan Ferry, not to mention Imogen Heap, Jarvis Cocker, and Paul Simon; as well as co-writing or arranging a variety of film soundtracks, including Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Steve McQueen’s Hunger. Last year he was part of two terrific recorded projects, Visitations, a series of guitar duets with Shahzad Ismaily; and Krononaut (listen to tracks below), a record of improvisations with drummer Martin France, bassists Tim Harries and Shahzad Ismaily, Arve Henriksen on trumpet, and Matana Roberts on saxophone. For more background I recommend our first interview here, and our later conversation here .
When Stian Westerhus posted on his Facebook page about participating on a new record it sent me down a rabbit hole that led to one of the best modern improvising ensembles I have ever seen. One of Belgian drummer Teun Verbruggen’s many projects is a quartet called Warped Dreamer, featuring himself on drums and electronics, Arve Henriksen on trumpet and electronics, Stian on guitar and electronics, and Jozef Dumoulin on Fender Rhodes and electronics. These videos from 2014 show how four top-notch instrumentalists, who are also highly conversant with the use of processing and electronics, can come together to make dynamic, boundry-less but cohesive music. Beautifully shot and recorded, it is a shame that it doesn’t exist as an unedited whole, if only because it feels like a few minutes are missing here and there. Still, it is necessary viewing for any modern guitarist. Look for the new record on Consouling Sounds February 26.
I can’t believe it has been four years since I spoke to Eivind Aarset, the guitarist largely responsible for sending me on this Guitar Moderne journey. Now is the perfect time, as he is featured on four new records. We spoke about three of them, and surprise, surprise, his first new guitar in, well, forever.
Summer is shaping up to be a bonanza time of year for new records featuring modern guitarists.
First we have a teaser for a record being released in August. For Terje Rypdal’s birthday, August 23rd, Rune Grammofon is releasing Sky Music: A Tribute to Terje Rypdal featuring – Nels Cline, Hedvig Mollestad, Bill Frisell, Jim O’Rourke, David Torn, Raoul Bjørkenheim, Henry Kaiser, and more. Produced by Henry Kaiser, who does an amazing job on the producing and playing front, this is shaping up to be THE modern guitar record of the year.
I have discovered a disproportionate number of modern guitarists through their association with trumpet players. Maybe it is the direct inspiration of Miles Davis, with his relentless search for the new, but Arve Henriksen, Jon Hassell, Nils Petter Molvær, Cuong Vu, Steve Bernstein, Christian Scott, Michael White, Paolo Fresu, Paolo Raineri are just a small percentage of the trumpeters who have been involved in experimental music in the last few decades. Often working with forward thinking guitarists like Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, as well as “Davids” Tronzo, Kollar, and Torn, these artists have made some of the most interesting, truly modern jazz around.
Now add to that list Los Angelino Daniel Rosenboom. His releases, Burning Ghosts and Book of Storms on his lable Orenda Records both feature avant/noise/death metal guitarist Jacob Vossler. Rosenboom has also released Vossler’s duo record with drummer Aaron MacLendon, Versus. Vossler gets so many great sounds and textures out of his instrument that it was a revelation to find out that he largely eschews effects and uses an amp that has inspired many an argument in the gearhead world.