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.
I discovered Benn Jordan’s YouTube channel, Benn and Gear through the usual side panel recommendations on the platform. I quickly realized that he is one of the most interesting musicians around. A guitarist who plays upside down and makes extensive use of the Roland VG-99, he is into boxing and MMA, has toured for years as The Flashbulb, combining metal and jazz guitar stylings, electronics, and beats, done extensive music for advertising and museum installations, and has a wicked sense of humor.
Sarah Lipstate has become something of a modern guitar superstar. Between opening for major acts, demoing the coolest products at NAMM, and her raft of distinctive ambient records as Noveller, she has proved a master (mistress?) of the looper. Her records reveal a serious composer, and through her Instagram page has proved she can geek out about gear with the best of them. Here she talks about how she made the excellent Arrow, which you should pick up immediately at Bandcamp.
Benn Jordan doesn’t actually tell you everything you need to know about MIDI guitar, though he gives you a fair introduction. But he pulls no punches in his review of the Boss SY-1000. His dismay at the presets is more understandable when, later in the review, you get to hear his own presets, which, unlike he Boss ones, sound more like something you might have heard in the last 20 years, and harness the emotive potential of synthesis in a way that the Boss presets fail to do.
Guitar wizards David Torn, Bill Frisell, Anthony Pirog, and Mary Halvorson all performed at the 2019 Big Ears Festival, but it was the Friday night performance by Rafiq Bhatia and his band that stole the show https://www.guitarmoderne.com/artists/big-ears-2019. Under lockdown in Brooklyn, Bhatia participated in a performance for the New York’s National Sawdust arts organization. That is presented here, followed by a video interview in which Bhatia reveals that all in the video is not as it seems.