#ValueMusic 16 Nov 2014: Guitar Mania

So, yes, it has been way too long since my last music post. Perhaps that is why my brain is so fried lately. Too much cybers. So now I’m going on a de-cybering trip, and finding sanity in old love: guitars and guitar music! For my birthday, my mom, sister, niece and nephew sent me 2 great books on lutherie which I’ve been devouring, and I’ve discovered some great new and old guitar music.

Bill Frisell: Guitar In The Space Age

Since Bill Frisell is a member in good standing of the guitar pantheon, it’s almost not news that his newest record is brilliant. But, this record really does stand out, even among his greatest stuff.

So he’s a Boomer doing instrumental versions of classic Boomer rock — boring, right? I’d argue that it’s a dangerous project for such a famously eclectic player to take on: there’s a huge risk of cliché, and a huge risk of mangling or over-working beloved classics like “Pipeline”, “Turn, Turn, Turn”, and “Rumble”. Frisell might have had something to lose by doing this.

That the record is incredibly well-executed is no surprise; all the playing is of course superb. You can hear each touch and beautiful timbre; all the instruments are immediate and perfectly themselves. Repeated plays reward you with new details. Play it loud. Frisell is on the left, co-guitarist and pedal-steel player Greg Leisz is on the right, and they interplay wonderfully. Bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen are sensitive and arrive at just the right moment with just the right tone every time. The rhythm section manages the energy flow to make this much more than just rock.

Frisell makes these songs new by reharmonizing, never repeating exactly, and sneaking in new bits of melody into interstices that you didn’t know the songs had. This record is not unlike Coltrane doing “My Favorite Things”: both use a known starting point to introduce us to new adventures.

The Jazz Breakfast has another good review.

Sajjanu: Pechiku And Quebec and CalifornicationⅡ

My friend Kate has been roaming around Tokyo in search of new tunes, and pointed me at Sajjanu. (Follow Sajjanu on Twitter and buy everything you can on Sajjanu’s Bandcamp.)

Sajjanu resemble a more songy take on Orthrelm, incorporating electronics and wacky hooting into their 2 guitar and drums trio. The music is weird and occasionally egregious, and overflows with genuine enthusiasm and whimsical energy. I find the goofball virtuosity and honest guitar and drum sounds really appealing.