Jim Hall and Bill Frisell - Hemispheres (Artists Share, 2008)
Hall and Frisell are two of the most influential guitarists in jazz, and they both possess a unique tone and conception. On this collaborative project, they work in tandem and also is a quartet setting with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Joey Baron. Hall's traditional approach to the instrument and Frisell's effects laden whimsy work very well together and they create effective music. The original composition "Migration" has trippy effects laden improv, sounding like something from Frisell's wonderful Ghost Town solo album. It is an interesting performance and has a unique feel, but at 15 minutes plus, it carries on a little too long. "Owed to Freddie Green" is a sweet tribute to the legendary guitarist of the Basie band, focusing on the rhythm that was his trademark, and "Family" has a mellow heartland Americana type feel. They cover several standards on this set, notably "Bag's Groove," which is taken as a bluesy exploration of the much loved standard, the two guitarists jamming together with aplomb. Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" takes on a haunted abstract feel, as Frisell leads the way, picking his way through the melody like a survivor through a rubble strewn field. "I'll Remember April" adds bass and drums to a classy performance, while "Chelsea Bridge" and "My Funny Valentine" are mellow and mild with thoughtful performances. This was an interesting collection of music, with the two guitarists in respectful collaboration rather than competition.