Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

357

Bill Frisell: Disfarmer

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist Bill Frisell's latest foray outside jazz into folk-country-Americana is a soundtrack of sorts to an exhibit of photographs by Michael Disfarmer, an eccentric and curmudgeonly portrait artist who recorded stark, stunning black and white images of his fellow townsfolk in rural Arkansas in the 1940s and '50s.

Most of the 26 tracks here are sparse, evocative sketches or snapshots, with Frisell and his string quartet of longtime cohorts—Greg Liesz on steel guitar and mandolin, Jenny Scheinman on violin and Viktor Krauss on bass—exploring and reworking simple countrified melodies. But, as is always the case with Frisell, this isn't your grandma's country music. He uses looping, music boxes and even has Scheinman play a Philip Glass-like backdrop on the haunting "Focus."

Some of the more fully developed tunes beg for the addition of lyrics and a sympathetic vocalist (maybe Allison Krauss on the bittersweet "Little Girl" or Neil Young on the brooding "I Am Not a Farmer"). A handful of well-chosen covers round out the album and help establish the mood of mid-20th century, middle-American melancholy, including a reimagining of Elvis Presley's famous version of "That's All Right Mama" (with Frisell faithfully reproducing Scotty Moore's classic rockabilly solos) and a take on Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" that showcases Liesz' superb steel guitar chops.

This is a quiet, at times almost pastoral, album and while it's expertly played by all the artists, there are fewer instrumental fireworks than on Frisell's jazz outings or some of his earlier explorations of country music, like the much-acclaimed Nashville. But lurking just below the beauty on the surface, as in many of Disfarmer's photographs, is a hint of despair and danger, which gives the work its power.


Track Listing: Disfarmer Theme; Lonely Man; Lost, Night; Farmer; Focus; Peter Miller's Discovery; That's Alright, Mama; Little Girl; Little Boy; No One Gets In; Lovesick Blues; I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You); Shutter, Dream; Exposed; The Wizard; Think; Drink; Play; I Am Not A Farmer; Small Town; Arkansas (Part 1); Arkansas (Part 2); Arkansas (Part 3); Lost Again, Dark; Natural Light; Did You See Him?

Personnel: Bill Frisell: electric and acoustic guitars, loops, music boxes; Greg Liesz: steel guitars, mandolin; Jenny Scheinman: violin; Viktor Krauss: bass.

Title: Disfarmer | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Marseille" CD/LP/Track Review Marseille
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "Cantos Invisíveis" CD/LP/Track Review Cantos Invisíveis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter" CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Drifting Home" CD/LP/Track Review Drifting Home
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981" CD/LP/Track Review Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 23, 2016

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!