Jazz CD Reviews

Bill Frisell – History, Mystery – Nonesuch

Many of the short tracks feature his guitar - which is not spotlit as the main instrument - in combination with violin and other strings - a style harking back to Django’s Hot Club of Paris with Thelonious Monk.

Published on August 22, 2008

Bill Frisell – History, Mystery – Nonesuch
Bill Frisell – History, Mystery – Nonesuch 435964-2, (2 CDs) 53:24 &   ****:

(Bill Frisell, elec. & acoustic guitars & loops; Ron Miles, cornet; Greg Tardy, tenor sax & clarinet; Jenny Scheinman, violin; Eyvind Kang, viola; Hank Roberts, cello, Tony Scherr, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums)

Individualist guitarist Frisell has assembled an octet with a bunch of longtime collaborator-friends, and put together a theatrical-sounding series of 30 short pices that sound somthing like the  soundtrack to a semi-experimental film.  They are mostly in the semi-elegiac mood of much of his music, with a very creative dreamy quality about them. Many feature his guitar – which is not spotlit as the main instrument – in combination with violin and other strings – a style harking back to Django’s Hot Club of Paris with Thelonious Monk thrown in.  In fact on the track Jackie-ing the ensemble really swings mightily.

Much of the material here came out of a multimedia collaboration with Jim Woodring, a Seattle artist – “Mysterio Sympatico.” Frisell’s influences seem to be roots music, jazz and chamber music in the classical style.  While many are tracks only a few seconds long, the nearly nine-minute tracks stand out as highlights of the score. They include A Change Is Gonna Come, and Waltz for Baltimore.  Who knows why Baltimore needs a waltz, but now it has one and it seems to fit. I was really wishing this was a surround SACD, but that’s just my personal bias.  The music industry bean-counters are not going to give us that.

 TrackList:

      1. Imagination    1:51   
      2. Probability Cloud    4:46   
      3. Probability Cloud Pt. 2    1:01   
      4. Out of Body    2:27   
      5. Struggle    5:32   
      6. A Momentary Suspension of Doubt    0:38   
      7. Onward    1:38   
      8. Baba Drame    6:09   
      9. What We Need    1:37   
    10. A Change Is Gonna Come    8:49   
    11. Jackie-ing    2:55   
    12. Show Me    3:16   
    13. Boo and Scout    2:28   
    14. Struggle Pt. 2    6:26   
    15. Heal    1:41   
    16. Another Momentary Suspension of Doubt    0:37   
    17. Probability Cloud Reprise    1:36   
    18. Monroe    4:18   
    19. Lazy Robinson    2:18   
    20. Question #1    1:14   
    21. Answer #1    0:40   
    22. Faces    1:52   
    23. Sub-Conscious Lee    5:39   
    24. Monroe Part 2    1:52   
    25. Question #2    0:56   
    26. Lazy Robinson Part 2    3:17   
    27. What We Need Part 2    1:14   
    28. Waltz for Baltimore    8:47   
    29. Answer #2    1:50   
    30. Monroe Part 3

- John Henry




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