The one other reviewer's right; it's hard to believe more people haven't commented on this album. Simply, it's his best for me, and that makes it pretty good. From beginning to end there's nary a cliche; Bill and his two able friends plough their own furrow and in the process encourage you to listen to some old tunes with new ears: 'Shenandoah' & 'Heard it Through the Grapevine' - brilliant. The Frisell originals ain't bad either. I've had this music on my ipod for a few months now and I'm still playing it more than anything else I've got on there. If I could I'd give it at least 11 stars.
Bill Frisell has one of the most distinctive guitar sounds you can hear today. Its very hard to categorise him. Certainly if you look in reference books or on the net he is always classed as a Jazz guitarist, and that is certainly true, but his use of guitar effects, occasional avant-garde splashes, and his interest in folk music and elements of popular music mean that that his material is a strange eclectic mix.
This double CD, recorded at the end of 2003 and early 2004, on the East and West coast of the US captures many of his influences brilliantly. They are recorded live in two well known Jazz Clubs in the Trio format (with bass and drums).
Disc 1 (West) starts with a superb version of I Heard it Through the Grapevine. For the newcomer to Frisell this is an easy listen. The tune is fairly explicitly stated and the improvisations reasonably straightforward. Frisell contributes a number of compositions and these are not to be dismissed. However the last track on the West CD is version of Dylan's A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. I found myself singing the song for days after a couple of listens to his version. Wonderful playing from what is only a Trio.
The 2nd Disc (East) contains what is really the only straight Jazz track - The Days of Wine and Roses. Covered by many of the Jazz greats this swings fabulously and Frisell shows that when the mood takes him he is as influenced by say Jim Hall than more obscure folk idioms. I am also in love with his take on the Gershwin classic My Man's Gone now on the this disc.
Both CD's make up a fabulous album. Some of the tracks take a few listens to get into but as a representative sample of the mans talents, with a bit of added spice, as its a live album, this is about as good as you can get.
I've had this album in my collection almost from when it was first released. It's one I return to time after time, and each time I play it the music sounds as fresh and exiting as the first time I heard it.
It's an album where the music stays with you long after the album has stopped playing. I can't imagine my life without it. A real classic!!
This is a brilliant, seminal collection. The recording is also top notch. The music demonstrates just what a fascinating and powerful an instrument the guitar is, in the right hands; and wow! These are the right hands, with the right imagination with the adaptations of some real classics! Totally unknown to me before a recommendation.
To be fair, I don't have much to say about this album. But when I visited the page, I found no-one else had bothered even commenting, which is a real shame.
This is a double CD, and it's live. Different locations (Yoshi's and Village Vangaurd), and different personnel (Frisell/Kraussd/Wolleesen and Frisell/Scherr/Wollesoen) on each CD. No matter - Frisell is the same.
Okay, maybe the second CD is a tad more avant garde, but it's never outrageous. And things are so together throughout this CD. Mellow at times, driving the next, Bill pulls us along on his excellent music.
Not much to say - other than it's essential Frisell. Not a bad place to start if you're new to the man, either.