For a brief time, David Torn was a sideman for the legendary musician Don Cherry. “Don was encouraging me to do things I’ve been doing anyway, saying, ‘This is your shit, you’re not really a guitar player, don’t worry about the guitar, just make these sounds, do whatever you need to do.’” As this video shows, forty-five years ago he was already Torn.
Guitarist David Torn has earned his place on the Guitar Moderne Pioneer banner through years of pursuing the outer reaches of the instrument’s sonic possibilities, through releases like Best Laid Plans, What Means Solid Traveller, Splattercell, and Prezens as well as collaborations with the likes of David Bowie, David Sylvian, and Meshell Ndegeocello. He has parlayed his talent for evocative textures into soundtrack work on films like Friday Night Lights, The Big Lebowski, Traffic, and Three Kings, as well as his Grammy-nominated score for The Order.
In honor of Torn’s new, completely solo record Only Sky [ECM] and the ensuing tour (see dates below) here is Part 1 of an epic, sprawling interview I began in Brooklyn last year and plan to continue in Baltimore this June. Also, look for my Guitar Player interview coming in June or July. Part 1 is highly edited but, I hope, still reflects Torn’s free-range approach to relating the details of his life in music.