Bill Frisell 

Big Sur

Is there a more eclectic, protean guitarist alive than Bill Frisell? He's recorded with diverse singers (Abigail Washburn, Elvis Costello), cutting-edge jazz performers (John Zorn, Don Byron), and mainstream jazz icons (Lee Konitz) — all without compromise. In his solo work, Frisell has scored Buster Keaton films, explored Americana on Nashville, and released a heartfelt tribute to John Lennon. He can swing, shriek, and wax ethereal. On his latest album, composed (mostly) during a ten-day retreat in Big Sur, Frisell pays homage to that beautiful hunk of geography with an unusual quintet: his guitar, violin, viola, cello, and drums.

Opener "The Music of Glen Deven Ranch" is a stately, lovely waltz that could've perhaps been composed in Stephen Foster's time. Conversely, the crashing ocean waves are evoked in "The Big One," an energetic, slightly loopy surf-rock-laced romp. "Highway 1" is an Americanized take on Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir": a pensive melody lopes along as Jenny Scheinman and Eyvind Kang (on violin and viola, respectively) saw away in a bluesy manner that's subtle yet compelling. "Hawks," with its unusual march-like tempo, finds Frisell playing some sizzling, almost psychedelic sustain, and "We All Love Neil Young" recreates Young's rustic-sounding voice in the form of Kang's viola as Frisell elegantly picks country-ish notes beneath.

Musicianship throughout is, as usual, superb. And while there are excellent (and soulfully poetic) solos, the brilliant Big Sur is not about flamboyance — it's about a tight, empathetic group playing as an entity with nary an non-essential note. (Okeh/Sony)

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in CD Reviews

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Taste, Fall 2017

Fall Arts 2017

Our Picks for the Best Events of the Fall Arts Season

© 2017 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation