I am heartened by how it gets harder and harder to pick the best of the year. It means that there are more and more great records of modern guitar being issued all the time. This year was made a little easier by the fact that veteran masters like David Torn, Henry Kaiser, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, and Eivind Aarset all appeared on one or more records. The list is rounded out by younger players like Julian Lage, Max Kutner, and Anthony Pirog, as well as the introduction of new faces: Justus West, Rafiq Bhatia, and Igor Osypov.
I am trying desperately to catch up with all the terrific music being brought to my attention. Here is a wide spectrum of interesting modern guitar, including a pair of solo recordings from Bill Frisell: one new and one you may have overlooked—I had.
Guitarist Jon Durant brings a unique sense of texture and melody to his instrument. His distinctive “cloud guitar” soundscapes and lead work have appeared on numerous recordings and film soundtracks. As executive producer of Alchemy Records, he has released recordings by other modern guitarists, such as Robbie Aceto, Wayne Krantz, and Leni Stern. His own latest release is Etymology by Burnt Belief, a project with Durant and Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin.