All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

135

Bill Frisell: All We Are Saying...

Ian Patterson By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Bill Frisell: All We Are Saying... Thirty-one years after John Lennon's murder there's no sign of his influence waning. Guitarist Bill Frisell adds personal tribute to the singer/songwriter/activist on All We Are Saying..., the year after vigils and tribute concerts were held to honor Lennon's 70th birthday from Liverpool to New York and everywhere in between. In Iceland, Yoko Ono lit a tulip-shaped beacon of light in the memorial Imagine Peace Tower, which combined with the Northern Lights in spectacular tribute. Frisell's homage is, of course, more subdued, but these heartfelt renditions of Lennon's music reflect long devotion; as Frisell says in the liner notes: "There was nothing we really needed to do to prepare for this. We've been preparing our whole lives."

The project had an unforeseen birth, beginning as a one-off Lennon tribute at a Paris concert in 2005. Frisell was in a trio then, with violinist Jenny Scheinman and steel guitarist Greg Leisz, though apart from one delightful duet between Frisell and Scheinman on "Love," all the selections here feature Frisell's quintet, with drummer Kenny Wollesen and bassist Tony Scherr adding a simple pulse to the music. On more rocked-out tunes like "Revolution" and "Come Together," the strong backbeat and precise bass works well, but Frisell, Scheinman and Leisz dovetail so beautifully throughout that there's a feeling some tunes might have worked better in a more intimate trio setting.

Rather than try to create a sonically challenging, genre-bending reinterpretation of Lennon's music, Frisell presents a straightforward country/rock-flavored set, reflecting the guitarist and his group's love of Lennon's melodies. With one, two or all three of the string-players carrying the melody faithfully, improvisational embellishment is restricted to counterpoint flourishes and arresting harmonics, and fans of Frisell's sometimes more exuberant playing might be disappointed—this is very much a tribute to Lennon's tunes, and not a showcase for virtuosity. The country/roots feel of the music makes this one of the most Americana-flavored of Frisell's body of work, which is perhaps ironic, given the source material originally hails from the English industrial city of Liverpool.

Some of the tunes work better than others, with "Please, Please Me" sounding a little stiff, but slower tunes like "Imagine," "In My Life," "Julia" and "Woman" fully reveal the string interplay at its most empathetic; the passing back and forth of "Across the Universe"'s melody is touching, as though Frisell, Scheinman and Leisz are genuinely sharing an object of rare beauty. The centerpiece—and worth the price of admission—is a gorgeous rendition of "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," with Frisell's improvisations as seductive as they are succinct. The more guitar-centric "Mother" is a slow-burning blues, while Frisell really shines on "Number 9 Dream," his chords and pearly little peels seeming to pay secondary tribute to Wes Montgomery.

The appropriately inspired closer, "Give Peace a Chance," is imbued with the quietly epic quality that is a Frisell trademark. One of the most elegant Lennon tributes, All We Are Saying... is yet another fine addition to the eclectic Frisell's discography; where will he take us next?


Track Listing: Across the Universe; Revolution; Nowhere Man; Imagine; Please Please Me; You've Got to Hide Your Love Away; Hold On; In My Life; Come Together; Julia; Woman; Number 9 Dream; Love; Beautiful Boy; Mother; Give Peace a Chance.

Personnel: Bill Frisell: guitar; Greg Leisz: steel and acoustic guitars; Jenny Scheinman: violin; Tony Scherr: bass; Kenny Wollesen: drums.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Savoy Jazz | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop For Jazz

  • 1968
    1968
    Bill Frisell
    Previously Unreleased AAJ...
  • Strange Meeting
    Strange Meeting
    Bill Frisell
    Previously Unreleased AAJ...
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Live Reviews
Rediscovery
Read more articles
When You Wish Upon a Star
When You Wish Upon a...
Okeh
2016
buy
Guitar in the Space Age!
Guitar in the Space...
Okeh
2014
buy
Silent Comedy
Silent Comedy
Tzadik
2013
buy
Big Sur
Big Sur
Okeh
2013
buy
The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved
The Kentucky Derby Is...
Savoy Jazz
2012
buy
Floratone II
Floratone II
Savoy Jazz
2012
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
John Scofield John Scofield
guitar
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar

Bill Frisell Events

Date Event Time Tickets
Sep17Sat Bill Frisell
Mountain Theater
Mill Valley, CA
11:00 am
Sep18Sun Bill Frisell
Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey, CA
12:00 pm
Oct4Tue Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct5Wed Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct6Thu Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct7Fri Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct8Sat Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.