1. Oz Noy - an insane talent who writes quirky, deep grooving tunes filled with intense playing. The thing I love the most about Oz is his adventurous spirit. No note is off limits with this cat and he breaks every musical 'law' there is with complete abandon. So amazing. He's got DVD's and much more explaining his approach and let me tell you - support this dude. He's as cool a guy as he is a player.
2. Wayne Krantz - Another New York player. An absolute rhythmic monster. He uses a bizarre practice routine he outlines in his book "an Improvisor's OS" - which can be bought from his website. He uses blocks of intervals and makes whatever he needs with them. Just so great.
3. Michael Landau - Fuzzy tonal madness from an absolute master. He writes such amazing grooves and solos with complete abandon. More 'in' than Wayne or Oz for sure, but insanely vocal. Constantly inspires me.
4. Scott Henderson - Quite possible my favourite player alive. The overused term "Monster" doesn't come close to it with this cat. Scott can go in any direction and turn on a dime. No harmonic situation or rhythmic challenge ever seems to impair this guy from peeling out some crazy amazing phrases. Here's one of the best guitar blues you will hear - and he isn't even considered a blues player! He's classified as a jazz fusion player. Regardless of the titles, do yourself a favour and dig through his catalogue. Crazy.
5. Bill Frisell - Bill inspires me in ways these other guys don't. He's much less technically impressive let's say. but his ability to weave textures and moods is truly sublime. His looping techniques are some serious food for thought for any guitarist. I could go on for a long time about Bill, but I will let his playing do the talking. Fantastic.