Guitar Talk by Joel Harrison
Secrets of master musicians, revealed in conversation.
“The work that Joel has done to showcase the development of the guitar and the expanded role that it has taken in music is a testament to the almost unlimited sonic dimensions the word ‘guitar’ can invoke in the imagination of musicians and fans alike.”
The Alternative Guitar Summit, founded in 2010, is a yearly festival of daring, inventive players who emphasize new and unusual approaches to the guitar. The music we present celebrates the guitar’s enormous range, beyond style or genre.In addition to commissioning and performing new guitar music, each edition of the festival includes in-depth interviews with some of the greatest guitarists of our time.
This new book presents these conversations, between founder Joel Harrison and Nels Cline, Pat Metheny, Fred Frith, Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, Elliott Sharp, Michael Gregory Jackson, Ben Monder, Anthony Pirog, Henry Kaiser, Mike and Leni Stern, Vernon Reid, Mary Halvorson, Nguyên Le, Rez Abbasi, Ava Mendoza, Liberty Ellman, Brandon Ross, Wayne Krantz, Dave Fiuczynski, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Miles Okazaki, Sheryl Bailey, Rafiq Bhatia, and Ralph Towner—twenty-seven great guitarists in all.
Guitar Talk celebrates the enormous range of approaches and sounds that exist in the modern guitar. The instrument can howl, scrape, scratch, scream, sing, pluck, and soothe. What stands out in this book is not so much the instrument itself, rather the wonderful and idiosyncratic personalities of these bold souls, their sometimes wild, often zigzagging, and ultimately profound journeys toward beauty, meaning, and excellence in their work.
We find out that jazz icon Bill Frisell won a high school band contest playing R&B tunes, beating out future members of Earth Wind and Fire. We learn which of Nels Cline’s compositions he wishes to have played at his funeral. Michael Gregory Jackson recounts painful episodes of racism as he stretched between the chasm of avant jazz, rock, and R&B in the 1980s. Many more revelations, amusements, and philosophies abound.