Some artists develop their voice over time. When guitarist Bill Frisell began his association with ECM in 1981 as a sideman with drummer Paul Motian, he was a full-blown original: a texturalist whose spare modal effects and pastoral and pop leanings took jazz in a new direction. Frisell's instalment in the label's rarum
anthology series, for which the artists chose the songs and contributed written commentary, offers more variety than most of his individual recordings. He is heard lending support to Motian, saxophonist Jan Garbarek, pianist Paul Bley and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler; overdubbing himself on acoustic guitar; leading an offbeat line-up including tuba stalwart Bob Stewart and taking his first tentative steps as bandleader with cellist Hank Roberts, bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Joey Baron. Whatever the setting, Frisell, who has gravitated in recent times toward American roots forms, finds a rich silver lining in electronic cloudscapes that can be dreamy or dark or both. The collection, which offers 24-bit/96 khz remastering--a first for the notoriously sound-conscious ECM--is brought to a close by classical and new-music artist Gavin Bryars, leading his own ensemble on an atmospheric chamber piece from 1993 inspired by a song on Frisell's 1982 debut, In Line
. --Lloyd Sachs
More than 30 musicians closely associated with ECM over a long period were invited to participate in the rarum
anthology project. One major difference between rarum
and other jazz samplers is the musicians' active participation at every step of the way: choosing and sequencing material, writing liner notes, often supplying photos from private collections.
Bill Frisell developed his musical voice while with ECM. Ensembles heard on Frisell's anthology including the bands of Paul Motian (whose ECM recordings also helped put Joe Lovano on the map), the Jan Garbarek Group, Paul Bley's quartet (with Frisell, John Surman and Motian), Kenny Wheeler's Angel Song Project, plus Bill's own "Lookout for Hope" group. Arresting choice of material includes the Gavin Bryars Ensemble playing "Sub Rosa", a piece inspired by Bill's writing.