458

Bill Frisell: All Hat

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Frisell: All Hat The problem with attempting to define Americana is that it is an all-encompassing term culturally speaking. As far as music goes, Americana runs the gamut from the Grateful Dead to Willie Nelson and just about everything in between. Equally, the music of guitarist Bill Frisell is difficult to describe without embarking on a short essay, and perhaps because of his eclecticism his music defines the essence of Americana as well as any and better than most.

This original score for Canadian film maker Leonard Farlinger's All Hat sees Frisell accompanied by familiar associates—Jenny Scheinman on violin, Greg Leisz on steel guitars and mandolin and Viktor Krauss on bass, as well as Scott Amendola on drums and percussion, and Mark Graham on harmonica. Scheinman, Leisz and Krauss have long accompanied Frisell on his ongoing journey into the country, bluegrass and folk which has characterized much of his music this last decade; not for nothing does All Hat sound like a proper group outing.

Frisell has always been able to mine the simplest tune and extract unexpected riches; the main theme, for example, is visited four times and yet sounds radically different each time, going from the beautiful acoustic guitar version with shuffling drum beat and Scheinman's train-rhythm violin, to a Johnny Cash-style chug-along romp, to a most graceful Southern waltz.

There are thirty one pieces ranging from thirty seconds to four minutes long, but there is a powerful continuity about this score. Frisell's music is often pictorial, and these sixty minutes are like an uninterrupted journey through changing landscapes, as sun and moon slowly chase each other's tails. One can easily imagine the wide plains and prairies, fields of wheat and small, nondescript towns either side of endless, straight highway. It's not all pastoral reverie however, and there are several interludes where Frisell's dark guitar-distortion rumbles, brooding and foreboding, like storm-heavy skies.

In many ways Frisell is ideally suited to cinema composition as it is remarkable how much he can weave in one minute, seemingly without breaking sweat; the tune "Hardy Race" may be the best one-minute square-dance ever, with mandolin and slide providing the melody while Krauss, Amendola and Scheinman lay down a delightful, bobbing rhythm. On All Hat the music rocks and grinds at times, burns slowly at others, and melts into the sunset, accompanied by Frisell's loops and ringing single note lines.

Producer Lee Townsend (as much a part of the Frisell posse as any of the musicians) has, as ever, done a beautiful job with this wonderful soundtrack, music which is outstanding in and of itself. Without having seen Leonard Farlinger's film, it is surely safe to say that if it is as satisfying as Frisell's music, then it is a must-see. All hats off to Frisell.


Track Listing: John Hardy; Opening Theme; Meet the Stantons; Chrissie's Fall; Peckerwood; Hardy Race; Empty Barn; Stable Scene; Sting; Etta Interlude; Theme version 2; Chrissie's Theme; Theme version 3; Empty Barn part 2; Stanton Theme; Interlude 2; John Hardy/Ray Returns to Etta; Ray Driving; Empty Barn part 3; Theme version 4; Ray and Etta; Jackson's Epiphany; Hardy Bar Song; Theme 5/Waltz; Interlude 3; Hardy Duet; Chrissie in the Meadow; Sonny's Losing Montage; Last Race; Etta's Theme; End Credits.

Personnel: Bill Frisell: electric and acoustic guitars, loops; Greg Leisz: steel guitars, mandolin; Jenny Scheinman: violin; Viktor Krauss: bass; Scott Amendola: drums, percussion; Mark Graham: harmonica.

Year Released: 2008 | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Blues and Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review Blues and Ballads
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Spaces" CD/LP/Track Review Spaces
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "Gin Fizz Fandango" CD/LP/Track Review Gin Fizz Fandango
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "Jersey" CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 9, 2016
Read "Mu" CD/LP/Track Review Mu
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "All L.A. Band" CD/LP/Track Review All L.A. Band
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!