One of the world’s premiere musical innovators on her instrument, Baltimore-based Susan Alcorn has taken the pedal steel guitar far beyond its traditional role in country and western swing music. Known among steel guitarists for her virtuosity and authenticity in a traditional context, Alcorn first paid her dues in Texas country & western bands.
Soon she began to expand the vocabulary of her instrument through her study of modern classical music (Messiaen, Varèse, Penderecki), the deep listening of Pauline Oliveros, Astor Piazzolla’s nuevo tango, free jazz, and world musics (Indian rags, South American songs, and gamelan orchestra). Her pieces reveal the complexity of her instrument and her musical experience while never straying from a very direct, intense, and personal musical expression.
“Alcorn’s pedal steel tones, stretch, float, and dance in the air, and on the ears, expressing something that’s worlds beyond words, yet able to communicate on the deepest level.”
– Signal to Noise
“Susan Alcorn is a great player who has mastered and redefined an unlikely instrument. With an exquisite touch she invoked it’s history, extended its emotional and ethereal strengths and explored its microtonal possibilities, drawing it out of the contexts that traditionally render it invisible, or generic, and into its own mature discourse, reminding improvisers that ‘free’ includes the right to be romantic, melodic and four to the bar.”
– The Wire (UK)
“beautiful, glassy and liquid, however far she strays from the pulse and conventional harmony.” – The Guardian