Guitars For Two Edition: Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Ross Hammond & Jon Bafus, Julian Lage & Gyan Riley, Bill Mackay & Ryley Walker
Gunn-Truscinski Duo: Bay Head
You know how we love great instrumental guitar music around here at RecommNeds, lately it seems to sound even better when it’s done in duo form. Here are four albums of duo music, with at least one guitar in each. Steve Gunn is an old favorite around these parts, so it’s nice to see his solo songwriter career getting some legs. But it’s also nice to see that he’s still indulging his weird instrumental side with a range of collaborators. On Bay Head, recently out on Three Lobed Recordings, he’s working with John Truscinksi who plays drums and synth. The record alternates between off-center electronic-tinged soundscapes, jazz excursions and characteristically Steve Gunn figments of beauty.
Ross Hammond & Jon Bafus: Masonic Lawn
Ross Hammond is another regular here in the RecommNeds, tirelessly unfurling a long stream of excellent new instrumental guitar music. Hammond has always straddled the jazz and Americana worlds, whether solo or with a partner. On his newest release, Masonic Lawn, the Sacramento guitarist collaborates with drummer Jon Bafus to blur the lines between genres even further. Hammond’s resonator guitars and Bafus’s shuffling drums create a sound that’s both massive and intimate. The music is thoughtful and altogether jubilant, the pair playing perfectly off each other. Check it out, I think you’ll dig!
Julian Lage & Gyan Riley: Midsummer Moons
Perhaps the guitarist whose music has best found my emotional core over the past two years has been Julian Lage. Simply put, I think he’s the best guitarist I’ve ever seen, and even better, he is brilliant when playing with a second guitarist. He’s worked with some of the best creating some amazing music, but perhaps his best foil is Gyan Riley. On Midsummer Moons, their chemistry is finally put to tape, as they play music written especially for them by John Zorn. The record is an masterpiece of acoustic guitar duets, like listening to two geniuses fully engaged in deep, probing conversation. If you like guitar music at all, I cannot recommend this album enough. It is not available on any streaming services, unfortunately, but I would seek it out nonetheless.
Bill Mackay & Ryley Walker: SpiderBeetleBee
If listening to Riley and Lage is like eavesdropping on a discussion between two geniuses, the effect of listening to Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker is like overhearing a relaxed conversation between two lifelong friends. The revelations are maybe more down to earth and arrived at more roundabout, but no less deep or impacting. Their new album SpiderBeetleBee is an epic of laid back guitar playing, two acoustic instruments creating their own musical language. This record is easy and gorgeous, outside any genre, and built for repeated listens. Enjoy!