This nasty virus is wreaking havoc over and above the sickness and death it is causing. In addition to our own deep disappointment in not being able to see Fennesz, Mike Baggetta, Mark Ribot, Brandon Ross, and all the other great modern guitarists that would have been performing at Big Ears this ear, our heart goes out to them and all the staff and businesses faced with diminished income and financial loss. Please support the artists by buying their recordings and going to see them if they come to a space near you. Stay safe.
Despite an increasing number of great recordings coming over my transom, three guitarists, Anthony Pirog, David Torn, and Mike Baggetta, dominated this year’s picks with two records each. In addition to being brilliant players who have produced stellar examples of their work on these albums, all the guitarists featured here are out in the trenches preforming live on a regular basis. In no particular order.
In the four years since we spotlighted Mike Baggetta he has been a busy man. He has relocated from New York City to Knoxville, Tennessee; played on David Torn’s Sun of Goldfinger record; gigged with Nels Cline playing lap steel (Cline on steel, not Baggetta), and released Wall of Flowers [Big Ego Records]. The last features a true supergroup power trio, ala a modern day Cream, as Baggetta, Mike Watt, and session legend, Jim Keltner join forces. Knoxville being relatively close to Nashville, Baggetta has been playing here quite a bit and took time before a gig at Rudy’s Jazz Club to come over and talk about Wall of Flowers and the joys of looping with a TimeFactor.
The new releases are coming thick and fast these days. In addition to recordings featuring veterans like Torn, Baggetta, Pirog,and Cline, there are terrific projects from numerous countries by a batch of names new to me.
On my first trip back to New York in two years, I lucked out in the modern guitar department. First I was able to meet with Ralph Gibson the fabulous photographer/musician at his studio for a wide-ranging discussion of photography, music, and life. Then, a random Facebook post revealed that Mike Baggetta was playing in Brooklyn with Jerome Harris, Billy Mintz— and Nels Cline on lap steel!
No Nels but this will give you an idea of the music.