On his birthday, it is worth remembering Jim Hall. In many ways he was a forefather of modern guitar. His classical composition training exposed him to many sonorities that would have been unfamiliar to more blues and standards-based bebop guitarists. He never stopped experimenting, whether it was with a DigiTech Whammy pedal, to produce harmonies he couldn’t reach with his fingers, or free improvisation with Bill Frisell or Pat Metheny. Here he plays as part of a modern classical ensemble. Thanks to the great LA guitarist Ken Rosser for posting this on Facebook and be sure to read his intro to it below.
The death of Nana Vasconcelos has brought back memories of a crucial stage in my musical development. By the time I moved to San Francisco in the mid Eighties, I had been listening to records on the ECM label for a long time, usually seeking records that featured guitarists like Terje Rypdal, John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny, David Torn, and Bill Frisell. Nana Vasconcelos was also featured on many of them. I was drawn to one he played on by the listing of a guitarist of whom I had never heard, Frode Alnaes. It was Sagn by bassist Arild Andersen and it seemed to relate to me directly. I had been playing with singer/songwriters for most of my career, always looking for creative ways to accompany them. The music on Sagn is based on Norwegian folk music. In typical Scandinavian musician fashion, Sagn ignored all boundaries and couched Kristen Braten Berg’s singing in jazz, rock, ambient, and Brazilian musics.
2013 that is—ten records this year; many more were released but only these seemed essential. Keep in mind that these, listed in no particular order, merely represent the recordings released this year (ish) that I found myself returning to over the course of time.
In the spirit in which Guitar Moderne exists, I list them primarily to excite readers about checking them out. They by no means are meant to be an “objective” list of the “best” recordings of the year, but only the ones that I heard and personally responded to. They very much reflect my own taste and your list will undoubtedly vary. By all means chime in and let me know what you think I missed.
I hear you asking, “Guitar Moderne, where do you find all these amazing guitarists?” Well, an outsized proportion of them are found by meticulously poring over the DMG (Downtown Music Gallery) mailers. This great record store specializes in modern music, so when an unknown (to us) name is listed on guitar, we are off on a quick search of YouTube.
Recently, this search revealed an Indonesian guitarist whose blues tone, be-bop chops, and command of effects reminded us of the incredible Oz Noy. Here he is burning through some serious funk. He is also part of a band, Simak Dialog that is more Metheny-meets-Indonesian percussion.