I first saw Brandon Ross with Cassandra Wilson back in the Nineties. His application of a jazz sensibility to Wilson’s Sarah Vaughn meets Joni Mitchell stylings was revelatory. I later learned about the amazing Harriet Tubman, his band with drummer J.T. Lewis and bassist Melvin Gibbs, but am sorry to say it was at a time when I was not ready for them. Delving into Ross’ work for this interview, I discovered that he embodies everything Guitar Moderne is about: personal style, adventurous playing, disregard for genre, and experiments with electronics. Our conversation ranged wide and very long. I tried to include the best bits here.
In the current climate, it seems appropriate to present a live appearance by a band named after an African-American heroine. Guitarist Brandon Ross , drummer J.T. Lewis, and bassist Melvin Gibbs provide some great playing and fascinating interview.
This nasty virus is wreaking havoc over and above the sickness and death it is causing. In addition to our own deep disappointment in not being able to see Fennesz, Mike Baggetta, Mark Ribot, Brandon Ross, and all the other great modern guitarists that would have been performing at Big Ears this ear, our heart goes out to them and all the staff and businesses faced with diminished income and financial loss. Please support the artists by buying their recordings and going to see them if they come to a space near you. Stay safe.
As a budding photographer, I was thrilled when guitarist Brandon Ross introduced me to Ralph Gibson through Facebook. It turned out that Ralph is not just a world renowned photographer, with work on display at the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the J. P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA, but also an avid guitarist, as interested in the future of the instrument as we are. He has published two books featuring the guitar, Light Strings and State of the Axe (with Andy Summers https://www.guitarmoderne.com/pioneer/the-andy-summers-interview). The latter could serve as an analog version of Guitar Moderne, with its photographs of and interviews with many of the same guitarists that appear here. The pictures in Gibson’s first book of photography, The Somnabulist, are like a dream, not necessarily linear, but very illuminating. Our conversation proved to be similar, wandering off on tangents, moving at oblique angles, but centered by a shared vision.
If I was still living in New York I would be at many of these. If you live there, or can get there, this should be an amazing run from September 8-13, 2015. I saw Marco Cappelli at The Stone back in 2012 when he was part of a Derek Bailey Tribute. His command of the instrument was matched only by his improvisational daring. Now he is back at tThe Stone for a residency.