april 2019

Photo by John Rogers

An amazingly exploratory performance that ties together a lost colleague, a fabled basement club, and some breathtaking improvisations.

Few musical situations are as intimate and rewarding as playing in a duo. All your thoughts and energy are focused on reacting to how another human is interpreting time, feel, and tone. For guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan, that connection is deep and thankfully documented on their latest ECM album, Epistrophy, which is out on April 12th. It’s a continuation of the duo’s previous album for the label, Small Town, and actually was recorded at the same week-long gig at jazz’s most hallowed of halls, the Village Vanguard, in March of 2016.

Although Morgan and Frisell are a generation apart, several common threads connect them. For many years Frisell had a yearly engagement at the Vanguard with his wildly exploratory trio with saxophonist Joe Lovano and shape-shifting drummer Paul Motian. Sadly, Motian passed away in November of 2011 but the sessions for his last album, Windmills of Your Mind, brought Frisell and Morgan together in a quartet with vocalist Petra Haden for an incredible set of standards. “I first met Thomas well before that,” says Frisell. “Joey [Baron] wanted to go over the music for an album [1999’s We’ll Soon Find Out] before Ron Carter got there. Thomas came and played everything just dead-on perfect. Plus, he looks younger than he is, so I thought, ‘Wow, this little kid just came in here and slayed this music.’” (Pro tip: Always prepare for a rehearsal as if it’s a gig.)

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.

$329

Bogner Ecstasy Mini
bogneramplification.com

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4.5

The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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Rig Rundown: IDLES

See how chaotic co-pilots Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan bring five pedalboards to mutilate, mangle, and mask their guitars into bass, synth, hip-hop beats, raging elephant sounds, and whatever “genk” is.

Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers. Specifically, it's the sound of four 100-watt stacks. (Actually, one is a 200-watt bass tube head.) IDLES’ guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan finally have the firepower to match their fury. (Original members singer/lyricist Joe Talbot, drummer Jon Beavis, and bassist Adam Devonshire fill out the band. Kiernan took over for guitarist Andy Stewart after 2015 EP Meat was released.)

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