I rarely write about books, perhaps because there are few coming out that seem to fit the GM format. Still, two relatively recent publications should be of interest to modern guitarists.
Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom, Before 1970 by David Toop [Bloomsbury Publishing] If you haven’t read Toop’s Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds, stop reading this and buy it immediately. For that matter if you care about modern music at all make sure you get around to all of his books. Into the Maelstrom is his long awaited first installment about the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise). His erudite discussion leans towards England and Europe, but then so did much of the free improv scene. His personal relationship with many of the players makes the reading that much more interesting.
I saw Mary Halvorson perform a number of times when I lived in NYC, once in duo with Elliot Sharp, and once in an ensemble with Marc Ribot. Surprisingly, I got to see her play in Nashville as well, in duo with bassist Stephan Crump. Halvorson is one of the most distinctive new guitar voices, with her angular style, acoustic meets electric sound, and unique pitch shifting effects using an expression pedal with a Line 6 DL-4. She is constantly releasing new music in situations that range from solo to large ensembles. I had been planning an interview, but Adam Perlmutter has done such a great one for Premier Guitar, I thought I would just send you on to it. I decided to flesh his work out with some great videos of Halvorson breaking down free improvisation and talking about how she creates exercises, as well some additional performance videos. Some performances feature Halvorson with her former teacher Joe Morris and with Tyondai Braxton, the son of another teacher, Anthony Braxton.
Mary Halvorson: Live @ the Ottobar, Baltimore, 7/17/2014, (Part 2 of the video featured in the Premier Guitar article)
This will be a periodic offering from Guitar Moderne: a listing of recordings that come to my attention that are momentous enough to make sure they come to yours. These are not reviews. Feel free to submit recordings, but they must be purchasable worldwide, reflective of modern guitar (subjective, but no blues, classic rock, country, etc.) and on a par with the ones below to rate a mention. Many of these are available from DMG in NYC.
I seem to have started this back in November and neglected to post it. I have added some more recent releases as well.
Sidsel Endresen & Stian Westerhus – Bonita [Rune Grammofon] The greatest guitar vocal duo since Joe Pass and Ella Fitzgerald. Modern guitar at its best and most modern.