Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bill Frisell - Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Jazz, 2010)

Guitarist Bill Frisell is an inquisitive soul always looking for new formats and challenges to explore. On this album he is playing in a small group format with Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums. The music is slow moving and gentle, passing by as pleasantly as a summer breeze. Occasionally the music gets a melancholy tinge, especially in the tracks that mine Frisell's penchant for Americana and blues, and its these moments when the emotion is palpable that are the most memorable. The most enjoyable tracks included "Winslow Homer" which has choppy clucking guitar and viola developing a vaguely Monk-ish tempo. The music builds with an impish grin, developing a skewed cool swing over a funky beat. Blind Willie Johnson's gospel blues classic "It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine" has a deep and mysterious feel, with the melody developing at a funeral tempo that is bleak yet compelling. Benny Goodman's "Benny’s Bugle" features Frisell playing some jazzy swing guitar against swirling and swaying viola accents. "Better Than A Machine" opens gently swinging, then feels the pace increase, building to a nice three way collective improvisation. "Keep on the Sunnyside" mines Frisell's country and Americana fixation to the fullest with a folky back porch performance that develops into a straight up hoedown. Things get serious again with "Sweetie," featuring more Monk influenced jazzy probing. Frisell solos nicely over plucked viola and subtle drums. This is an interesting and intimate trio that takes a very multi-faceted view of music, embracing and combining music of several genres into an interesting mix. This album may not appeal to the fans of Frisell's more energetic recordings like those with the Naked City ensemble or his Gramavision recordings. But fans of his more mellow recordings will find the melodic content to their liking. Beautiful Dreamers -

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