Nels Cline, Adrian Belew, David Torn, Eivind Aarset, Fred Frith—These superstars of modern guitar have been with us for decades and are all currently making vibrant, forward thinking music. Oz Noy and Stian Westerhus are relative youngsters in this category, still, we all might sometimes wonder where the next generation of players on this level will come from. I have featured many talented young players in Guitar Moderne, but Nick Reinhart is one of the few who embodies the rare combination of virtuoso technique on both guitar and effects required for superstar status in the world of modern guitar. His ability to spontaneously turn noise into music continues to astound me. Here he is wreaking great sounds out of a random sample of Earthquaker pedals and what are probably an unfamiliar amp and guitar.
You may notice some labels making recurrent and multiple appearances on this list and from year to year. These labels have become successful, forward thinking purveyors of boundary stretching music, so it is not surprising they are attracting the best of the best. Cuneiform has a long history in this field, which makes up and coming, virtuoso Anthony Pirog a good match. Rune Grammofon continues to support the ground-breaking work of modern guitar hero Stian Westerhus, while Anti and Nonesuch are becoming the go-to labels for roots artists looking to remain relevant.
Once again this is a purely subjective list, so please let me know if you feel strongly about a record I have left off. We are fortunate so much great modern guitar music is available, but it makes it hard for one man to keep up. Happy Holidays.
Modern guitar pioneer, Fred Frith, was kind enough to contribute to the feature I did For Premier Guitar on extended guitar techniques. His new record, a duo with saxophonist John Butcher, The Natural Order, is an improvised tour-de-force, with both players using extended techniques in a musical conversation of the highest order.
Thanks to Nasjonal jazzscene we have a couple of amazing sets for this version of the Guitar Moderne Festival. One, a new set from the amazing duo of Stian Westerhus and Sidsel Endresen, and a second from the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. Add full concerts from from Ava Mendoza, Marc Ribot and Fred Frith and you have a great way to end the summer.
Stian Westerhus and Sidsel Endresen
It pains me that I won’t be able to make it to NY for this but any fans of modern guitar living in or around the city should be be in heaven (Thanks to Downtown Music Gallery for the listings):
Fri Dec 20th: FRED FRITH/JESSICA LURIE/ALLISON MILLER at Shapeshifter 7pm
Sat Dec 21st: FRED FRITH/IKUE MORI/LOTTE ANKER/JIM BLACK at 8 & 10pm!
Sun Dec 22nd: FRED FRITH & IKUE MORI at 10pm!