With the Xmas season fast approaching, this Swiss label could provide one-stop shopping for all the modern guitar records you need to please fellow fans or yourself. This small label offers over 250 recordings, many of which feature pioneers (Fred Frith, Elliot Sharp) and current stars (Mary Halvorson, Kurt Rosenwinkel) of modern guitar. It is also a great place to discover new players from Europe (Dominic Landolt, Vojko Huter).
As advertised, Big Ears 2019 was a guitar extravaganza. My wife Liz and I were able to see Bill Frisell, David Torn, Mary Halvorson, Anthony Pirog, and Rafiq Bhatia, some of them multiple times, as well as other, non-guitar improvising legends and newcomers. Once again, venues like the Tennessee Theater, The Bijou Theater, The Standard, and The Mill and the Mine offered stellar sound quality and sight lines, and the local food was fabulous.
Big Ears starts Thursday. For those of you attending, here is a sample of the amazing guitar performances planned. For those of you who can’t make it, here is what you will be missing. There are still General Admission tix available, so if you can get to Knoxville this week, please do.
Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan
Sun of Goldfinger
Mary Halvorson and Code Girl
A brilliantly witty take on the Beatles classic, with much use of the expression pedal on her Line 6 DL4 delay. This was was part of a double LP Black Friday 2018 release from Verve. The label had a group of young jazz practitioners contribute tracks to a compilation of tunes from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Many of the tracks sound like a return to the jazz of that era, but Halvorson’s voice is entirely of this moment.
If you are a fan of modern guitar, Knoxville, Tennessee is without doubt the place to be March 21-24, 2019. The lineup at last year’s Big Ears Festival was terrific, but this year’s crop of modern guitar mastery is even more bountiful. Get your tickets and reserve your rooms soon. For starters, Bill Frisell is performing in two contexts.