Bill Frizzell: Four Albums Review

Avant-garde jazz is not known for its softness, however Bill FrisellThe compositions are a subtle exception. He was once a member of the Roaring Outfit in the early 1990s Naked city, Frizzell has spent decades at the crossroads of Americana and jazz, flirting with deft subtlety and nostalgia but never committing to any particular part. The 71-year-old guitarist has dived into country, dabbled in surfing, reworked classic movie scores, and even released a sumptuously-arranged full-length album. John Lennon wrappers. His fans admire the quiet sweep of his thoughtful arrangements and aloof tone, often backed by vibrato, yet he has collected his share of skeptics who portray him as a traditionalist. Many of his releases border on pretty formal exercises—rarely touching on his personal blues or articulating his beliefs about the country that produced his material’s source material.

However, the Trump years and the pandemic have been a change. Bandleader Frisell’s recent recordings reveal more of Bill, their conceptual underpinnings less instructive, more open to personal conviction—and, as always, his collaborators are well-suited to the task at hand. Americana, as of 2020, is a panoramic joint effort with co-composers Grégoire Marais and Romain Collin, both immigrants who weave their complex view of the titular genre into the tapestry of the record. released later that year, St. Valentine’s day Expanding on its predecessor, it draws the wounded inner parts of Burt Bacharach’s often-trashy “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” before Frissell offers his own policy on the “We Must Overcome” treatment. his latest work, four , He adopts a similar position: Having learned lessons from America’s musical history, Frissell spins it into a sense of ill resilience in the face of the present.

He charted nine of the 13 tracks, all originals, during the quarantine. (A few other songs appeared in a quieter form on 1999’s master hit good dog happy man Last by 1988 Watch out for hope.) Frisell is accompanied by a clever new mix: Gerald Clayton on piano, Gregory Tardy on sax and clarinet, and Jonathan Blake on drums. Without a guitarist, the group zips through airy melodies like acrobats on a wire. However, sadness always follows fun four, which go down and up like the feelings of a day. The result is one of the most organized and deliberate publications of Frizzell’s career, a diary collection that no one would mistake for a genre study.

The record is filled with renditions of deceased friends, and candy bars that rely on skillfully turning ostinatos. Opener “Dear Old Friend (For Alan Woodard)” opens with a duet between clarinet and piano which blends into the album’s rousing version of the intro. Claude Utley, about a Seattle artist who died in 2021, transitions a piano riff into call and response — Tardy’s clarinet practically cries, before Clayton and Frisell deliver a two-chord response. Overlapping melodies give Hal Willner’s Waltz about famous product and Frisell’s collaborator, who died of COVID in 2020, the revolving influence of sacred choral music. However, the middle of the album thinks a lot about moody, groovy jazz, and on the sweet “Wise Woman,” the band relies a lot on repetition.

However, these slow moments are paying off. At the beginning of the LP’s fourth and final side, the musicians are wowed by the subdued rendition of “Good Dog, Happy Man,” a callback to the record’s bright-eyed opening figure. Taken together, these two authors serve as illuminating beacons of hope fourSad center. This sequence hits real-life rhythms, striking dizzying peaks and inevitable valleys in quick succession.

on a period fourFrisell & Co. He gains a sense of forgiveness, which is a painstakingly formed emotional nail. Bluesy closer to “Dog on a Roof” numbers are among his best late in his career. Beginning with several minutes of guitar harmonies, ghostly piano, sax performances, and cymbal scraping, Players settles into a groove that’s dirtier and tougher than anything that’s come before it. Before the song ends, it turns into a haunting, haunting free jazz, but the promise of this rousing center section lives on, highlighting their long-overdue middle path between sadness and joy.

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