160

Petra Haden and Bill Frisell: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Petra Haden and Bill Frisell: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell Opinions about the self-titled Petra Haden and Bill Frisell will likely depend on whether the latter gives listeners the Willies or they find the guitarist Unspeakable. Those attracted by his mellow heartland meditations on The Willies (Nonesuch, 2002) will likely enjoy it; those shunning it in favor of his eclectic modernism on Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004) may find it too tame. This assumes, of course, that there's also an interest in hearing the frilly vocals of Petra Haden.



Make no mistake, this is Pop Standards Lite. The reason it's not necessarily lightweight is both musicians perform it well. Arrangements are often creative without sacrificing recognizability and the interplay between them usually succeeds.



One exception: Haden's vocals are drenched in too much processing, muddling the sonic textures that so often elevate Frisell's albums above the ordinary. Haden, the daughter of legendary bassist Charlie Haden, is accomplished enough as an indie pop-rock singer to not need such handicaps, and a minimalist approach in line with the folk-oriented instrumentation would be far superior. (Frisell, by the way, has collaborated a number of times with her father, including a pair of excellent trio albums led by drummer Ginger Baker.)



Tom Waits' "I Don't Want To Grow Up" is a highlight simply because it takes on a nursery rhyme tone. "Baï-laa Taigam" is a reflective and mature change of pace. "Moon River" emerges as a slow-paced winner thanks to a light touch on instrumentation and processing. Some listeners' limits for frilly might get stretched on "When You Wish Upon A Star" and "I've Got A Crush On You," where Haden sings with something of a childlike quality, but those who enjoy the Disney touch on compositions ("Sorcerer's Apprentice" or "Someday My Prince Will Come," anyone?) will probably find the arrangements refreshing.



Frisell shines at times, content to stay back and just offer riffing support at others. He's probably best appreciated on the originals "Throughout" and "The Quiet Room," where Haden offers vocal support without words. Frisell mixes folk, mild electric rock and the usual range of jazz influences into his strums and pluckings, mercifully avoiding most of the clashing experimentation that jarred some ears on Unspeakable.



There's enough here to make an encore collaboration worth encouraging (this time they ought to bring in the elder Haden; surely many have already suggested this by now). Given that both tend to perform on the modern edge of the contemporary scene, the next round of compositions might focus more on the new and original, rather than the past. Save that retro touch for the recording studio engineers and the result ought to be fully worthy of the talent.


Track Listing: Satellite; Floaty; Ba

Personnel: Petra Haden, vocals, violin; Bill Frisell, electric and acoustic guitars, loops

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sovereign Artists | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "City Of Poets" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Poets
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Tierra" CD/LP/Track Review Tierra
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "2-Man Jazz Band" CD/LP/Track Review 2-Man Jazz Band
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "The Stone House" CD/LP/Track Review The Stone House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "The Scrambling Ex" CD/LP/Track Review The Scrambling Ex
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!