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Pedernal by Susan Alcorn

From the album

Album Title: Pedernal
Label: Relative Pitch Records
Released: 2020


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About the Album

“Pedernal,” the title track of Susan Alcorn’s new album. The album opens a new chapter for the Baltimore-based Alcorn, introducing her as a composer with a vision as subtle, bracing, and beautiful as her pedal steel playing. This fearless project is built around some of her deepest musical relationships, including those with guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Ryan Sawyer. Also featured is new Alcorn collaborator, violinist Mark Feldman, an artist she’s wanted to work with since seeing him perform with pianist Sylvie Courvoisier some years ago. “Pedernal” opens with Alcorn’s gracefully slithery pedal steel line suggesting a dark, minor blues that’s joined in an undulating caress by Formanek’s lithe bass. Descending chords introduce the second section as the band steps into the gathering maelstrom, eventually resolving into a beatifically lyrical theme that seems to summon the abiding power of the iconic vista. Over the past quarter century Alcorn has blazed a singular trail on the pedal steel guitar, transforming an instrument inextricably linked to the music of Nashville and Hawaii into a vehicle for improvisational flights untethered to any particular idiom. Best known for her work as a solo improviser, she’s a master of impromptu duo encounters who’s also comfortable mixing it up with larger ensembles like the London Improvisers Orchestra and Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.

Song Listing

Pedernal; Circular Ruins; R.U.R.; A Night in Gdansk; Northeast Rising Sun.


Susan Alcorn
guitar, steel
Michael Formanek
bass, acoustic


Date featured

March 4, 2021

This song appears by permission of the contributing artist and/or record company.
It is for personal use only; no other rights are granted or implied.


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