I first saw Brandon Ross with Cassandra Wilson back in the Nineties. His application of a jazz sensibility to Wilson’s Sarah Vaughn meets Joni Mitchell stylings was revelatory. I later learned about the amazing Harriet Tubman, his band with drummer J.T. Lewis and bassist Melvin Gibbs, but am sorry to say it was at a time when I was not ready for them. Delving into Ross’ work for this interview, I discovered that he embodies everything Guitar Moderne is about: personal style, adventurous playing, disregard for genre, and experiments with electronics. Our conversation ranged wide and very long. I tried to include the best bits here.
The new TC Electronic Sub’N’Up octave pedal looks impressive, especially the modulation you can add with the editor. Still, no expression pedal input seems odd.
The good news is that NAMM keeps growing. The better news is that the amount of gear, well, geared to the modern guitarist is growing as well. This year, Anaheim featured a plethora of pedals that made new and glorious noises, a far cry from your standard Tube Screamer and Klon clones (though there were some great versions of the latter from J. Rockett). Also in evidence were unique guitars that managed to look both modern and retro. Hall E, always the land of new ideas good and bad, this time served up some really good ones.
The only bad news was how difficult it was for my one-man show to cover even the equipment of interest to Guitar Moderne readers. Premier Guitar and Guitar Player offer access to much of what I missed, but here is what I found to be the best of the rest.
Nick Reinhart shows what you can do with some Red Panda pedals and a Line 6 DL-4. Check out the color coordinated strap, sneakers and pedal. The man is talented and stylin’.
In an effort to encourage Guitar Moderne readers to submit their rigs for the new Reader’s Rig section, I proffer my own basic board. I thought it also might be educational to explain how I arrived at this particular configuration. It involved decades of experimentation with dozens of effects, as well as the knowledge gained by being in the lucky position of reviewing and writing about pedals for many years. That said, I am as neurotic as any other guitarist, so rest assured the experimentation is not over, nor ever likely to be.
Robert Jürjendal studied classical guitar and composition at Georg Ots Tallinn Music School. In1992 he took part in Guitar Craft, a series of guitar and personal development classes founded by Robert Fripp of King Crimson. One result of these classes was the formation of Weekend Guitar Trio with fellow students Tõnis Leemets and Mart Soo.
Jürjendal’s approach to modern guitar couches his classic technique in tones generated by his Roland VG-8, and loops, often adding Eastern European elements including vocal soloists and choirs. His most recent release is Source of Joy [Unsung Records], a compendium of compositions that range from melodic respites to epic washes with an unfaltering sense of lyricism even during the most atonal moments.