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).
Life and website issues got in the way of doing timely NAMM reports this year. In my defense many of these products just started shipping a couple of months ago. As has become habit, there were hundreds of cool pedals on offer, mostly variations on pedals you have seen and heard.
With NAMM 2020 coming up, I thought I would do a listing of the things I saw last year that might be different and of more interest to the modern guitarist. The theme in January seemed to be the return of modulation (flange, chorus, and phase), fuzz/harmonizer combos, and guitar synth pedals. I am featuring only what I consider to be the most interesting takes on each. Please check company websites for details.
In February of 2019, I was flown up to Montreal to cover composer/guitarist Tim Brady’s evening of 150 guitars for Guitar Player. You can read my coverage and interview about that here and see a sample below. Inspired by my conversation with Dither’s James Moore, after we finished Tim’s GP interview, I restarted the recorder for a wide ranging dialogue about the state of the electric guitar in today’s classical world. We covered a lot of ground so I am breaking it up into two posts. If you enjoy Part I, please subscribe to be notified when Part II is posted.
I am way behind on these but here are a bunch to keep you busy until I catch up
Sun Speak Moon Preach [Flood Records]
On Sun Speak’s release Moon Preach, Chicago guitarist Matt Gold, with Nate Friedman (drums and percussion), carve out a unique, dark, moody sound that contains overtones of jazz and Americana, but is a bit more aggressive than some others exploring this territory.
JP Schlegelmilch/Jonathan Goldberger/Jim Black Visitors [Bandcamp]
Every few years the organ trio gets reinvented. Guitarist Goldberger’s group with organist/keyboardist Schlegelmilch, and drummer Black delivers a personal take on the combination that builds on work done by Larry Young, and later John Abercrombie.
The Lie Detectors Part III Secret Unit [Chant Records]
The latest from Eyal Maoz is a killer guitar/drums workout with moments of mayhem mixed with quieter but no less sonically interesting and intense music.
Jessica Ackerley A New Kind of Water [Bandcamp]
Ackerley coaxes warm tones out of her Strat while demonstrating an advanced sense of space and musical interaction.
Ben Goldberg Good Day For Fishing [Pyroclastic Records]
Fascinating concept: Goldberg wrote 12 pieces based on poems by Dean Young. He then gathered trumpeter Ron Miles and guitarist Nels Cline, and the trio recorded those pieces. Young then wrote 12 poems based on listening to those pieces being recorded, without knowing which poem each piece was based on. The boxed set comes with the CD, notes and 12 cards, with the before and after poems printed on either side. What could have been a gimmick has resulted in some excellent music.
Max Kutner rummagelore [Bandcamp]
Henry Kaiser collaborator Kutner offers a solo acoustic outing that ranges from pastoral Americana to Derek Bailey modern, cruising through classical and other styles along the way.
Harvey Valdes Solitude Intones Its Echo [Destiny Records]
Like Charlie Rauh’s Innocent Speller record, Valde’ recording reveals him as another master of concision (could this be a trend?). His 18 short, lyrical, solo electric guitar performances of compelling compositions hook you and leave, well before wearing out their welcome.
Record Picks is a periodic offering from Guitar Moderne: a listing of recordings brought to my attention that I feel are worthy of being brought to yours. These are not reviews. Feel free to submit recordings, but they must be purchasable worldwide, reflective of modern guitar (subjective to be sure, but no blues, classic rock, be-bop, country, etc.) and on a par with the ones above to rate a mention. Many of these are available from DMG in NYC. If you have already sent me a recording, feel free to remind me.
Apologies for the dearth of posts. I have people trying to migrate my site away from the awful Bluehost and it has been taking longer than expected. It is still not done but they have fixed the email and assure me I can post, so here is a Guitar Festival for those increasingly hot days when you don’t want to go outside.
Sidsel Endresen and Stian Westerhus live at the Torino Jazz Festival 2019
Fred Frith Quartet at the Festival Météo, Mulhouse, 2015
Nels Cline and Yuka C Honda collectively known as FIG performing “Purple & Red” at The Stone on Aug 26 2016