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TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2014, Days 4-6

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Days 1-2 | Days 4-6 | Days 7- 9 Tedeschi Trucks Band Bill Frisell Guitar in the Space Age! Julian Lage & Nels Cline / Bill Frisell Go West TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Ottawa, Canada June 20-July 1, 2014 While not necessarily an intentional decision, the next three days of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival were a guitar lover's dream: two performances by festival stalwart Bill Frisell; the return of Julian Lage (by this time, no longer an up-and-comer) in an eagerly anticipated duet with Nels Cline, the more avant-leaning ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Bill Frisell: Silent Comedy

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Only once before in a discography that runs to 35-odd albums has leader Bill Frisell released a solo guitar album--the brooding Ghost Town (Nonesuch Records, 2000). Thirteen years on, Frisell returns to the solo format, though the difference between the two offerings is like night and day. Whereas Ghost Town was a series of mostly acoustic compositions embellished with overdubs, Silent Comedy's real-time, loop-heavy electric improvisations employ no post-production. And, where Ghost Town was introspective and darkly poetic, Silent Comedy is restless, jagged and harsh at times. It represents, without a doubt, the most avant-garde experiment of Frisell's career.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Frisell: Big Sur

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Heralded guitar maestro Bill Frisell combines his 858 Quartet and Beautiful Dreamers units to impart another watermark on his Americana legacy, featuring an organic acoustic-electronic sketch of this picturesque area of California coastline. The album comprises nineteen-tracks, spanning Civil War-era country-chamber, undulating ostinatos, layered strings, parts, and even snippets of surf music on “The Big One." Frisell's aural snapshots of Big Sur tender an alluring vista melded with melodic content and occasional detours amid a polychromatic framework, mottled with understated themes and contrasting interactions with the strings contingent. Pieces such as “The Animals" project solstice via a somber ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Frisell: Big Sur

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Along with household names like Pat Metheny and John Scofield, Bill Frisell is one of the most distinctive American guitarists of his generation. Despite his penchant for abstraction, Frisell's phrasing, touch and tone are as singularly unique and readily identifiable as those of his more conventional peers. Though his vast discography includes bold experimental solo albums and erstwhile membership in John Zorn's infamous Naked City, Frisell's abiding fascination with Americana has found him fine-tuning his encyclopedic interpretations of American folk music traditions over the past three decades--honing his reputation as one of the most imaginative stylists in the milieu.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Frisell: Big Sur

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Big Sur, the mountainous coastal region of California lends itself to various geographical definitions--it isn't easy to pin down definitively. So, it was an inspired idea by the Monterey Jazz Festival to put guitarist Bill Frisell in a cabin in the area and commission music, because with Frisell, musical borders are delightfully amorphous. The suite that Frisell premiered at the 2012 MJF provided the blueprint for this album, which inhabits a strangely alluring space somewhere between modern chamber and country music, sprinkled with a little Frisellian magic dust that blurs the edges. Frisell has a knack of evoking ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Bill Frisell: Big Sur

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Most, if not all, musicians value the relationships--both musical and friendship--that they build over the years, but few are as loyal as guitarist Bill Frisell. One look at his various releases over the past couple of decades and it becomes instantly clear that, once he has established a successful working and personal relationship with another musician, he rarely ever calls on anyone else. With the exception of Rudy Royston--who, since first collaborating with the guitarist in 2007, has regularly split the drum stool with Kenny Wollesen--every member of the group on Big Sur has been Frisell's sole choice on their ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Bill Frisell: Live Download Series #14-17

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DS#001-013 | DS#014-017 In a previous All About Jazz article, the first thirteen installments of guitarist Bill Frisell's remarkable Live Download Series were reviewed. Beginning in 2009, Frisell and Songline/Tonefield Productions began making available high quality, download-only (but in formats including 320K MP3 and lossless FLAC) live performances dating as far back as 1989, when the guitarist was on the road to support his Elektra/Musician debut, Before We Were Born, released the same year. What has made this series so important is that, as is the case with so many artists, far more goes on than can ever ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Bill Frisell: Live Download Series #1-13

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DS#001-013 | DS#014-017One of the biggest problems facing contemporary jazz musicians is that they often have far more projects on the go than could ever be recorded and released commercially by conventional record labels--even small and relatively responsive indie labels. Special projects abound, or personnel changes for a tour are forced when members of a regular group are unavailable, the plight of the 21st century working musician being how to remain viable and available. Of course, it's not necessarily a problem, because regardless of the reason, it means that today's leader ends up touring in more combinations than ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lee Konitz / Bill Frisell / Gary Peacock / Joey Baron: Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue Note

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At almost 85 years old Lee Konitz can play whatever he damn well pleases on his alto saxophone, and it's a good thing he does. He may currently be making some of the most interesting music of his long career. Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue Note teams Konitz with three first-rate musicians--all jazz stars in their own right--for an album of standards so loosely interpreted that finding the recognizable melody is a bit like a “Where's Waldo" puzzle. It's in there. Keep looking.This record is truly detached from the structured cool of early Konitz albums like Subconscious-Lee ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lee Konitz / Bill Frisell / Gary Peacock / Joey Baron: Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue Note

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Super groups are, by their very nature, either bright shining stars or catastrophic exploding supernovae. Dream team basketball lineups get beat by upstarts, and the new Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Van Damme movie is sure to be a nonstarter. The reasons for the flops are usually chemistry and vision, both essential requirements.Same can be said for jazz groups. Listen to a longstanding unit work and its affinity is obvious. Assemble a quartet for a night, or fortnight and evidence of its chemistry (or lack of it) is apparent straightaway.Such rapport is instantly recognizable from this live 2011 date at New ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue Note

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Lee Konitz/Bill Frisell/Gary Peacock/Joey Baron Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue NoteHalf Note Records2012The idea of going into a club and playing a set of standards without any plans, preconceptions or pre-arrangements ain't exactly new; it's what plenty of jazz musicians do, each and every night. But it's one thing to go in and run down some Real Book charts, head-solo-head style, and give everyone a chance to stretch out and solo on some familiar material; it's another thing entirely to be at a level where the material is reinvented, set after ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Bill Frisell: Helsinki, Finland, August 29, 2012

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Bill FrisellHelsinki FestivalHelsinki, FInlandAugust 29, 2012 It's hard to find a summer festival that is not critically dependent on the weather for that essential vibe. As such, August's Helsinki Festival stands as good a chance as any for success, with the main stage located a half-mile from the central station on a bank beside an inlet of the Baltic, where 600 people can sit in relative comfort under a 40 foot high, custom built steel and poly-propylene marquee. And when the weather does shine there's an outdoor bar and all those old faces to ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Bill Frisell and Bill Morrison: Columbus, OH, March 31, 2012

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Bill Frisell TrioThe Great FloodThurber Theater, Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OHMarch 31, 2012Sometimes you can hear a song lyric for years, but it is not until it is sung just so that it hits home. Bill Frisell's Trio presented an original soundtrack to a film by director Bill Morrison about the great Mississippi flood of 1927 at The Ohio State University's Thurber Theater on Saturday, March 31, 2012. When the guitarist quoted Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern's “Ol' Man River," the lyric “He don't say nothing / But he must know something / Cause ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jack DeJohnette featuring Bill Frisell: The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers

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Drummer Jack DeJohnette, now four releases down the road with his Golden Beams label, turns to the archives for this historic live set with Bill Frisell. The guitarist first heard DeJohnette's music as a teenager in the '60s, though it took some time before they would first perform together on Don Byron's Romance with the Unseen (Blue Note, 1999). They embrace a shared musical vision with one ear to the ground, digging the groove, and the other wide open to the possibilities of spontaneous invention in the moment. This hour-long set documents the duo's performance at the ...



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