135

Bill Frisell: All We Are Saying...

Ian Patterson By

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; #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.

Album information

Title: All We Are Saying... | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Savoy Jazz

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read Sleepy Town
Sleepy Town
Jamie Pregnell
Read Momento
Momento
Dave Milligan
Read Peace
Peace
Spirit Fingers
Read Warmer Than Blood
Warmer Than Blood
Chris Montague
Read Off Brand
Off Brand
Collage Project
Read Expanding Light
Expanding Light
Whit Dickey Trio
Read Iron Starlet
Iron Starlet
Connie Han

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.