As promised, modern guitarist legend Bill Frisell and I discuss his new Record “Valentine,” Covid brain, and playing live with no audience. We also compare Jazzmasters.
When I moved back to New York City from San Francisco in the late 90s, David Tronzo was playing often and, more likely than not, I was there. I watched with my jaw dropped as he played blistering, jazz-inflected lines on his vintage Silvertone—with a slide! Check out some of the videos here; it has to be seen to be believed. Then watch my interview with him where he explains his tuning, odd choices for slides, and how the end of The Marshall Plan has affected touring opportunities in Europe for American acts, and much more.
On Terje Rypdal’s 73th birthday, I wanted to let you know about an amazing 6 CD boxed set from 10 years ago. I consider myself a big fan of the Norwegian guitarist, yet until recently was unaware of this collection of live trio performances (with the occasional guest), Very Much Alive. Perhaps because it was released as a Paolo Vinaccia project on Jazzland , rather than ECM.
Modern electric guitar music has, at times, suffered from bouts of sameness. Employing techniques pioneered over a half century ago by Derek Bailey and Fred Frith, guitarists fanatically avoid repetitive rhythmic and/or melodic motifs and use similar preparations, to the point where they all sound virtually identical. Perhaps the form had to go through growing pains.
More recently, whether due to more schooled guitarists entering the field with wider technical skills and musical tastes, or the many new processors that allow a wealth of distinctive tones, a plethora of players, from all over the world, are creating personal voices within this idiom. The records here, solo and band, emanate from Italy, Argentina, and the US, each with its own approach to modern guitar performance.
Though live music shows are starting again, it is with limited audiences—hence limited money, so it would help these artists if you were to buy their recordings. Also, it will give you something to do all while we all wait this out.
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.