Rhett Butler – Rhett has an uncanny two handed technique which can easily be mistaken for two guitarists playing if you’re not watching him. He dropped out of the University of North Texas Jazz Program after a prominent professor told him he’d be quite a guitar player if he would give up the two handed technique. Since then he has released a rather impressive 11 albums and shared the stage with numerous guitar heroes such as Al DiMeola, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, and Larry Corryell. What sets Rhett apart from many other two-hand technical guitar players is his uncanny ability to switch between two handed, finger picking, and strumming styles to create complex yet approachable arrangements which appeal to general audiences as well as guitar geeks.
Avi Bortnik – I was introduced to Avi Bortnik as the rhythm and loop player on John Scofield’s Uberjam album. I often wondered why Scofield’s Uberjam and Up All Night albums (two of my favorites) had such a distinct sound. After a quick visit to his Avi’s MySpace page, it became immediately obvious that he had a huge influence on the sounds of those albums. Avi’s signature arrangement style is a loop driven eclectic mix of electronica, hip hop, funk, pop, and jazz. His playing is very textural in nature, yet he always keeps things moving in an interesting direction avoiding the monotony which often plagues loop driven music.
Will Bernard – One listen to the aggressive funk jazz jams on the Stanton Moore Trio’s Emphasis! (On Parenthesis) will have you searching the net for more info on guitarist Will Bernard. His style ignores many of the “smooth” clichés of modern jazz in favor of a more aggressive borderline rock oriented feel…definitely more in common with Grant Green or Robbin Ford than Wes Montgomery or George Benson. Even his “clean” tone typically sports a hairy edge and he’s always grooving in the pocket.
Oz Noy – The New York based Oz Noy is almost unable to categorize. His style includes elements of jazz, rock, and funk often sidestepping tradition in favor of extended jams featuring effects laden tones which will turn the heads of the most experimental guitarists. While he has a tendency to over play just a bit in a live setting, he’s always keeps things interesting and fresh. His live album, simply titled Live featuring includes drummers Anton Fig, Keith Carlock, and bassists Reggie Washington, James Genus and Will Lee, is a must have for fans of modern instrumental guitar music.
Ty Tabor – King’s X is one of the most underrated hard rock/metal bands on the scene. Ty’s work with the band borders on genius only for his melodic leads and distinct tones but his incredibly unique bouncy rhythms. One listen to Dogman, the title track from the 1994 release, and you’ll understand. And if King’s X wasn’t proof enough of the guitarist’s technical abilities, he’s also a member of progressive rock instrumental bands Platypus and The Jelly Jam, which also featured John Myung of Dream Theater and Rod Morgenstein of the Dixie Dregs.