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Bill Frisell - With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones CD (album) cover


Bill Frisell


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.03 | 15 ratings

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4 stars When you bring together Bill Frisell, one of jazz music's best post-modern guitar stylists, avant-garde bassist Dave Holland (Miles Davis, et al), and traditionalist drummer Elvin Jones (John Coltrane quartet, et al), you would expect something pretty amazing, right? Well, it is pretty amazing, but not necessarily as evident as you might expect. It might take a few listening sessions to get it, but this collection of mostly Frisell compositions is quite versatile, but the style is quite loose and free, not structured, and at times veers into avant territory and other times sounding quite traditional. But the nice, loose style pervades through most of the album, and that is what makes it so good.

On albums like this, Frisell always manages to bring in a couple of nice standards hidden among his own compositions, and this time around, he brings in the standard "Moon River" from Mancini and the folk song "Hard Times" from Foster, the later he turns into a loosely swinging, yet Americana, style. But the original songs have their own degrees of charm, wit and adventure. Beginning with "Outlaws", you are introduced to the carefree style of the album, with a nice mix of harmonic sweetness mixed with unexpected doses of dissonance. It's a perfect introductory piece to this album. However, there is still a lot of laid back, easy going sound here to enjoy, it's not all avant garde. Frisell has proven he has a love for the folk/Americana sound and he explores how well this sound fits together with his jazz numbers, for instance, try "Twenty Years" and the raunchiness of the blues/folk style in "Convict 13", a track that also brings in some cool dissonance just to knock you off kilter a bit. The drum solo that starts out "Again" allows Jones to let loose on his own, and the amount of freedom given to Holland to explore how his avant style all mixes in with Frisell's ingenuity and style makes this an exciting album. The real highlight of the album though, is "Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa", a track that easily melds all styles that gets followed by a surprisingly bluesy "Strange Meeting", all the while, that sweet loose style hold all of the album together in ways you wouldn't expect. It all culminates in the happy melody of "Smilin' Jones" which begins as a melody you could easily whistle, and moves along almost becoming, in its own right, a psychedelic jam by the end.

This all fits together so well, and helps remind me why Frisell is one of my favorite jazz-based guitarists. His expression is unlike most jazz fusion artists in that he doesn't have to overstate his presence for him to be noticed. His music is not in your face, however, it won't take long for it to ring true into your soul. It is surprising that this album has mostly gone ignored in the Archives, yet it is one that should be heard by jazz guitarists that want to hear how to explore a different style, and this is what helps you become noticed, not following the norm, but creating your own style. Frisell might not be the most recognized jazz guitarist in the world, but after hearing this, you will believe, along with me, that he should be.

TCat | 4/5 |


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