Guitar Moderne Record Picks XXI

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.

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Spotlight: Brandon Ross

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.


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Peter Green: Modern Guitarist?

Eric Clapton’s playing on the Bluesbreakers record changed my life. This was a guitar tone unlike any other previously. Fat, sustaining, it recalled the violin on which I had begun playing music. So, of course,  I bought the next Bluesbreakers record, this time featuring Peter Green, who died this week.

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Spotlight: Benn Jordan

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.

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Sarah Speaks About Her New Noveller Record

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.

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