Too many classic rock docs feature the same critic talking heads, with their cringe-worthy opining about the artistry and career of the subject. Though not always the same critics, it is always the same pompous bloviating that makes you fast-forward in order to get to the good footage. Not so Matthew Longfellow’s Still On The Run-The Jeff Beck Story
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.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has released Live In Tokyo by Jeff Beck on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Formats. The set includes Beck classics like “Stratus,” “Led Boots,” “Cause We Ended As Lovers,” “Big Block,” “A Day In The Life,” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin’,” along with an amazing version of the Irish chestnut “Danny Boy.” It was gorgeously filmed at the Tokyo Dome City Hall in Japan in 2014, with excellent sound. This Japanese tour featured Beck’s latest backing band of Jonathan Joseph (drums), Nicolas Meier (guitars) and Rhonda Smith (bass). Like Jennifer Batten before him, Meier handles the synth parts on guitar synth, as well as rock rhythms. He also adds some new acoustic guitar textures. His compositon, “Yemin,” proves a beautiful vehicle for his boss. Meier performs all his parts on various multi-tasking Godin guitars.
At an age when most other artists are rehashing the hits, Beck continues to grow and reinvent himself, making this DVD a must have for any fan of the 70-year old perfect master.
For the most part Europeans, and especially Scandinavians, are miles ahead of Americans when it comes to the seamless integration of jazz with sampling, beats, and electronics that is Nü-Jazz. Nils Petter Molvær brought out Khmer in 1995, while Bugge Wesseltoft, Jazzanova and St. Germain have been working this territory easily as long. Guitarists mining this particular type of fusion also seem to reside on the east side of the Atlantic: Eivind Aarset, Bram Stadhouders, Jeff Beck, Stian Westerhus, and Nguyên Lê have been long at home with the grooves of EDM and/or the sounds of experimental electronica.
Electric guitar sounds do not exist in a vacuum. Rock guitar tones were changed forever by Eric Clapton’s Bluesbreaker revelation. In Fusion, Larry Carlton and Robben Ford had a huge impact. Terje Rypdal provided inspiration for a generation of Scandinavian players (and a few Americans). More recently Bill Frisell has influenced the sound of some jazz guitarists. Few guitarists, though, have mined the sonic aspect of late Jeff Beck; Phil Brown comes to mind, and now Andre LaFosse. While Brown has taken off from Beck’s whammy bar manipulation madness to forge his own sound, LaFosse’s current dual releases reference El Becko’s more melodic side (The Hard Bargain) and synth integration (Do The Math) while maintaining a musical voice that is distinctively LaFosse.