442

Bill Frisell: East/West

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Frisell: East/West Though he's passed through several phases during the last two decades, guitarist Bill Frisell has manifested an uncanny ability to transport listeners across gaps in time, space, and style. His jump-cut playing with Naked City did this in a blunt and abrupt fashion; recordings from his country-tinged period tugged at the very roots of American string music; and his 2003 Nonesuch recording, The Intercontinentals, leapt boldly across international boundaries.

In a similar fashion, the double live set East/West, assembled from recent dates in New York and Oakland, respectively, is a flying carpet all its own. But what is striking is how very effectively the recording accomplishes this feat, given its extended duration and the fact that these sixteen pieces were spliced together from several days' worth of live performances. If nothing else, you have to credit Frisell with consistency—an attribute that also applies to his trio mates, Kenny Wollesen (drums), Tony Scherr (bass on East), and Viktor Krauss (bass on West).

This music displays several uncommon characteristics: it conveys a deep respect for memory, both musical and cultural; it's somewhat pastoral and imbued with a related organic fertility; and it's saturated with resonant tones. Whether the backbeat or the downbeat takes the pole position depends on whether a given piece may be based in rock/blues/country or jazz (almost all the former). Frisell definitely has an ear for dissonance, but he mostly prefers to use it as a spice, rather than a main ingredient.

The West disc has the most coherent flow. It gets off to a comfortably familiar start with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," then digs deep into driving, rocking blues on the next piece. So far, so good, so American... but then a six-minute slice of mutated West African blues shows up in the form of "Boubacar" just down the road. This ultra-resonant piece works the backbeat in a much more relaxed, meditative fashion.

The ten pieces on East are more fragmentary, though they have their own high points. A timbrally clean take on "The Days of Wine and Roses" takes a little while to get into its groove, but once the rhythm section kicks in, everything starts swinging nicely. Frisell's relatively short phrases have a conversational aspect, making use of irregular spacing and occasional dissonance. The bright fourteen-minute original "Ron Carter" has some nice give-and-take counterpoint. The one and only real low point is the annoying but mercifully brief "Tennessee Flat Top Box," which takes finger-snapping bluegrass straight into a black hole of noise to wrap the disc up.

Depending on your tastes, especially with respect to loops and effects, the backbeat, blues, and country, you'll get more out of some of these pieces than others. But taken as a whole, this is a creative and consistent collection that begs repeated listens and stands with the very best of Frisell's recorded work.

Note: Eleven additional tracks from these live performances are scheduled to be made available as downloads in November, 2005.


Track Listing: CD1 (West): I Heard It Through the Grapevine; Blues for Los Angeles; Shenandoah; Boubacar; Pipe Down; A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. CD2 (East): My Man's Gone Now; The Days of Wine and Roses; You Can Run; Ron Carter; Interlude; Goodnight Irene; The Vanguard; People; Crazy; Tennessee Flat Top Box.

Personnel: Bill Frisell: electric and acoustic guitars, loops; Viktor Krauss: bass (CD1); Tony Scherr: bass, acoustic guitar (CD2); Kenny Wollesen: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Parodies: Jazz Music for Violin and Octet" CD/LP/Track Review Parodies: Jazz Music for Violin and Octet
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: March 21, 2016
Read "Ena / One" CD/LP/Track Review Ena / One
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Eos" CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Prospect" CD/LP/Track Review Prospect
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 13, 2016
Read "Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 11, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!