477

Petra Haden/Bill Frisell: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Working with singers is nothing new to the ubiquitous and stylistically impossible-to-pigeonhole guitarist Bill Frisell. But whereas his '95 collaboration with Elvis Costello, Deep Dead Blue , was a live recording, stark in its simple meeting of one voice and one guitar, Frisell's latest teaming with Petra Haden, daughter of legendary bassist Charlie, and singer/violinist for that dog, is an altogether more produced affair. Petra Haden and Bill Frisell finds both Frisell and Haden building layer upon layer of sound, creating a lush and appealing ambience that brings new meaning to a varied programme of originals, standards, traditional pieces and some surprising covers.

With a soft approach highlighting Haden's often whisper-like vocals, the duo takes on Coldplay's "Yellow" and Foo Fighters' "Floaty," tackling them more like folk songs, although Frisell's overdriven guitar on both provides the link to the originals' more assertive stance. Still, the use of acoustic guitar, loops, layered violin tracks, and Haden's veritable chorus of vocals brings an unexpected richness and poignancy to these essentially simple songs.

Elsewhere Tom Waits' "I Don't Want to Grow Up" displays more naiveté than Waits' version on Bone Machine , while their reading of "I Believe" has a certain Beatles-esque quality that belies its composer, Stevie Wonder. The Mancini standard "Moon River" has been covered by Frisell both live and on record with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Elvin Jones, but never with the kind of rubato elegance found here. "When You Wish Upon a Star" receives a similarly delicate treatment, with Frisell's solo, deliciously rich, guitar proving all the accompaniment Haden needs to evoke the childlike innocence of the tune.

It is, in fact, the lyrical simplicity and lack of self-indulgence—even in light of their extensive use of overdubbing to build a broad tapestry—that makes the album such a pure and unaffected pleasure. Whether interpreting a modest traditional folk tune like "John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man" or the Tuvan traditional piece "Baï-laa Taïgam," where Frisell and Haden use everything at their disposal to create an hypnotic and almost statically-ambient sensibility, nothing feels unnatural or overly-considered.

It is Frisell's uncanny and unselfish ability to blend into virtually any context while retaining his distinctive personality that makes any project he is involved in worth investigating. And Haden's similar lack of ego, avoiding any superfluous displays and instead searching for the essence of the tune, meshes perfectly with Frisell's sensibility. Petra Haden and Bill Frisell may not be as utterly exposed as Deep Dead Blue , but it shares a similar penchant for personal interpretation that is clear and economical, even as Haden and Frisell utilize the full potential of the studio environment to create a sound that is every bit as compelling.

Visit Petra Haden and Bill Frisell on the web.

Note: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell has been released by True North Records in Canada and Sovereign Artists in the US.


Track Listing: Satellite; Floaty; Ba

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

Title: Petra Haden and Bill Frisell | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: True North Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Mercerville" CD/LP/Track Review Mercerville
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "Edit Peptide" CD/LP/Track Review Edit Peptide
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 11, 2017
Read "Heart Of Gold: Live In Aarhus" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Of Gold: Live In Aarhus
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Jazz Jukebox" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Jukebox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Hearts & Minds" CD/LP/Track Review Hearts & Minds
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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