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Brandon Ross: Between Hendrix & Henry Threadgill

Overdue Ovation profile of the post-modern guitar hero (or anti-hero?)

Brandon Ross (photo by Junya Suzuki)
Brandon Ross (photo by Junya Suzuki)

When asked if he identifies himself as a composer or an improviser, Brandon Ross chooses neither. “I consider myself a creator,” he says, a comment that nods to wisdom collected from his friend and frequent collaborator Wadada Leo Smith.

Ross is also the epitome of the postmodern guitar hero, a fretboard virtuoso who adheres to no particular sound or genre, moving freely from the feedback-laden assault of the adventurous jazz-rock trio Harriet Tubman and the electronics-heavy jumble of Phantom Station to the delicate beauty of the acoustic chamber duo For Living Lovers (in which he also plays banjo). Since the mid-1970s, the longtime Brooklynite has amassed an extraordinarily diverse catalog as a bandleader, cooperative group member and sideman to a plethora of avant-garde stars, among them Smith, Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake, Archie Shepp, Leroy Jenkins and Butch Morris.

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