560

Bill Frisell: History, Mystery

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Frisell: History, Mystery Over the 25 years he's been recording as a leader, guitarist Bill Frisell has worked in a multitude of settings, from gritty downtown to pastoral Americana, and with as many kinds of line-ups, from string trios through small groups to little-big bands. He's convinced in most contexts, and dug deep in many, always retaining his own voice, in which an abundant lyricism is partnered with earthy rhythmic vitality.



On the two-disc History, Mystery, Frisell shuffles the pack and comes up trumps again—this time leading a strings, horns and drums octet in a 90-minute suite which roves between impressionistic divertissements, most of them lasting just one or two minutes, and full-on, extended, do-what-they-say-on-the-can band work-outs, which variously take in bop, post-bop, Malian desert blues, Delta blues, 1960s soul, urban groove and low slung rock.



The many flavored, wide ranging endeavor, which could have been bitty and rambling, is woven together by Frisell's attractive string arrangements.



It's engrossing, grown-up music—but, crucially, grown-up music in which the memory of teenage kicks lives on, in Frisell's guitar, Greg Tardy's booting, vocalized tenor saxophone, and Kenny Wollesen's post-rock backbeats. It's a delight of the first order, and an altogether worthy follow-up to the grimy and outstanding Floratone (Blue Note, 2007), whose producer, Lee Townsend, is once again at the controls.



Most of the pieces are Frisell originals, compiled from two separate suites—"Mysterio Sympatico," a multi-media project with artist (and Frisell sleeve illustrator) Jim Woodring, which was premiered in 2002, and "Stories From The Heart Of The Land," broadcast on US National Public Radio in 2007. History, Mystery itself was mostly recorded live, in Washington and Boston, in 2006.



Amongst the originals, the highlights include "Probability Cloud" and "Struggle"—the first an Argentinean-flecked waltz on which bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla would have fit right in, even if he did imperil the tune's sunny vibe; the second a low-end, trucking jam with wild strings, visceral rhythms and dirty grunge guitar.

There are some subtly recalibrated covers—Malian guitarist Boubacar Traore's "Baba Drame," saxophonist Lee Konitz's "Sub-Conscious Lee," soul singer Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," and pianist Thelonious Monk's "Jacky-ing." Tardy gets to solo infrequently, but when he does, he's immense—tearing into "Sub-Consious Lee" at hyper-speed, and tearing up "A Change Is Gonna Come" like an old-time honker and screamer.



Serious, substantial stuff—and a whole lot of fun too.


Track Listing: CD1: Imagination; Probability Cloud; Probability Cloud Part 2; Out Of Body; Struggle; A Momentary Suspension Of Doubt; Onward; Baba Drame; What We Need; A Change Is Gonna Come; Jacky-ing; Show Me; Boo And Shout; Struggle Part 2; Heal; Another Momentary Suspension Of Doubt; Probability Cloud (Reprise). CD2: Monroe; Lazy Robinson; Question #1; Answer #1; Faces; Sub-Conscious Lee; Monroe Part 2; Question #2; Lazy Robinson Part 2; What We Need Part 2; Waltz For Baltimore; Answer #2; Monroe Part 3.

Personnel: Bill Frisell: guitars; Jenny Scheinman: violin; Eyvind Kang: viola; Hank Roberts: cello; Greg Tardy: tenor saxophone and clarinet; Ron Miles: cornet; Tony Scherr: bass; Kenny Wollesen: drums.

Title: History, Mystery | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Shirley Horn Live at the 4 Queens" CD/LP/Track Review Shirley Horn Live at the 4 Queens
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Alameda Gardens" CD/LP/Track Review Alameda Gardens
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "Ears Are Filled With Wonder" CD/LP/Track Review Ears Are Filled With Wonder
by John Sharpe
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "The Long Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Journey Home
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "More Figs And Blue Things" CD/LP/Track Review More Figs And Blue Things
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 21, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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