Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bill Frisell w/ Ron Carter and Paul Motian (Nonesuch, 2006)

Eclectic guitarist Bill Frisell has long been one of my favorite musicians, his sense of humor and boundary-stretching big picture idea of what it is to play "jazz" appeals to me greatly. On this album, he has two other legendary musicians in tow, bassist Carter and drummer Motian and produces one of the "jazziest" albums of his eclectic career. Paul Motian has played with Frisell for years in a long running trio with saxophonist Joe Lovano, and Ron Carter has been the object of Frisell's admiration to the point of having a tune dedicated to him on Frisell's Blues Dream release. The music examines several different sub-genres. Two Thelonious Monk compositions, "Raise Four" and "Misterioso," give the trio a chance to stretch out interpreting the master's intricate compositions.

It wouldn't be a Bill Frisell album without a dose of Americana, in this case, covers of "You Are My Sunshine," Hank Williams "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and the traditional "Pretty Polly." Polly, in particular, is fascinating as Frisell takes an almost painterly approach deftly adding some electronic enhancements and feedback to create an ominous sound tapestry. Carter's rock solid bass work and Motian's agile percussion (especially his superb brushwork) are spot-on throughout the entire disc. The album is rounded out by one original from each band member, most notably Carter's spry "Eighty-One." Fans who were looking for Frisell to step out and play something akin to the music he made with Joey Baron and John Zorn may be a little disappointed, but music fans who appreciate fine teamwork with a little wry humor will find this disc quite enjoyable.

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