There were many terrific records in 2017. In another year, Charlie Rauh’s Viriditas, Dan Phelps’ Arc, and Rights by Manuel Troller’s band Schnellertollermeier might have fit on my “Best of…” list. But this year saw so many releases by modern guitar superstars that I just have to recommend reserving some money to also pick up their worthy efforts.
This list is mine; feel free to list yours in the comment section.
Some emotional vignettes, a bunch of Mary Halvorson, and, to start off, a set by Raoul Björkenheim eCsTaSy.
Raoul Björkenheim eCsTaSyDoors Of Perception [Cuneiform Records]
Björkenheim adds some new tones to his signature edgy yet vocal style, (like wave form distortion), yet his distinctive instrumental voice continues to shine through.
Wednesday was modern guitar pioneer Terje Rypdal’s 70th birthday. To celebrate, Henry Kaiser assembled a who’s who of modern guitarists: David Torn, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Hedvig Mollestad, Jim O’Rourke, Hans Magnus Ryan, Raoul Björkenheim, Even H. Hermansen, Reine Fiske, along with long time Rypdal keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and drummer Gard Nilssen (Dungen). There is a Volume 2 that is a vinyl only release of side-long outtakes that were too good to leave on the shelf.
Kaiser also played and his production is more than up to the task of presenting multiple distorted guitars with clarity and cohesion. This tribute is a must-own for anyone interested in modern guitar playing at its best.
Summer is shaping up to be a bonanza time of year for new records featuring modern guitarists.
First we have a teaser for a record being released in August. For Terje Rypdal’s birthday, August 23rd, Rune Grammofon is releasing Sky Music: A Tribute to Terje Rypdal featuring – Nels Cline, Hedvig Mollestad, Bill Frisell, Jim O’Rourke, David Torn, Raoul Bjørkenheim, Henry Kaiser, and more. Produced by Henry Kaiser, who does an amazing job on the producing and playing front, this is shaping up to be THE modern guitar record of the year.
If there is one record store that epitomizes the spirit of Guitar Moderne, it is Downtown Music Gallery. When I lived in New York, I discovered a wealth of new music there and saw some great shows. Here is a video that gives some of the store’s history and shows the kind of guitarists and other instrumentalists who played there. If you are looking for recordings by your favorite artist and can’t find it at your local record store (assuming you have one), these guys will take care of you.