Today's NY Times obit appeared for Philadelphia guitarist Jack Rose, who passed away from a heart attack Saturday and the young age of 38. WFMU has played his music back to the days of his ensemble Pelt and followed him as he moved into exploring a realm of pre-WWII fascination: ragtime, cajun, blues, jazz. Like one of his heroes, John Fahey, his fandom did not come without the drive to expand and challenge genres and the definition of acoustic string playing. As noted in the obit, despite leaving behind the louder, dronier aspects of Pelt to study a more delicate and complex manner of guitar; his love for La Monte Young and Terry Riley continued to resonate, and his fingerpicking didn't so much work to replicate the music he loved as it did to conjure up ethereal improvisations that belonged to no particular style or era. He took a real initiative to absorb as many avenues of interest that were possible to create a new, distinct vocabulary, while offering lessons to a whole new brigade of musicians this decade who too were excited about challenging the possibilities and parameters of the acoustic guitar.
Here at WFMU we have a few staffers under our roof who knew Jack
personally, and our heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and
friends; it was shocking to hear the news this past week around
these halls. His live shows were dazzling, the best one I saw him play had him outdoors on a Hollywood hillside back in 2005. I wish I had experienced the gigs more often.
Luckily, WFMU had Jack in our studios on two ocassions, you can check them out here:
Jack's live performance on the Janitor From Mars show on WFMU, hosted by Rob Lim, 11/22/04 (stream)
Jack's live performance on John Allen's show on WFMU, 10/24/05 (stream)
John Allen offers these words about his experience with Jack at WFMU:
I'm saddened and pissed by the loss of Jack and the future he and his wife Laurie were working on together. There are few guitarists whose work and potential excited me more, and I looked forward to watching all the peaks and valleys of Jack's career over the next few decades. One of my favorite memories of Jack was when he recorded a live set for FMU in October '05. We began the show talking about his influences, and I was sort of egging him on as we both got carried away wondering out loud where he sat amongst audiences both receptive and clueless to the language he was helping to redefine. When he was ready to play we realized there had been a tech mishap and we had to re-record. I cued up another file and asked "do you think we need to talk about any of that stuff again", he said "nope" and
jumped right into his set. That moment gave me a great insight into Jack and his momentum. His enthusiastic spirit was as admirable as was his modesty, he didn't hold back, and in a relatively short period of time he asserted himself to help raise the bar pretty fuckin' high for the next couple generations of players.