Music Is (Gate) (Ogv)
Bill Frisell

Music Is (Gate) (Ogv)

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Known for his searching, often conversational style, guitarist Bill Frisell is also a maverick with a wide-ranging ear for avant-garde jazz, country twang, and droney noise. His albums with such varied collaborators as trumpeter Ron Miles, violinist Jenny Scheinman, and saxophonist Don Byron often sound like two or more people having an engaging discussion. Interestingly, barring 2000's Ghost Town, he has seldom recorded in a solo setting. Frisell amends this with 2018's mutative, deeply considered Music IS, his second album of solo recordings. Produced with longtime friends and collaborators Lee Townsend and Tucker Martine at Martine's Portland, Oregon studio, the album finds Frisell playing a mix of newly composed songs, as well as older favorites from his extensive back catalog. Moving from electric guitar to hollow-body electric to acoustic, and sometimes layering them together, Frisell crafts each song with delicate care, like a painting or a sculpture. Some tracks, like "Go Happy Lucky," are played spare, with no overdubs; others, like "Winslow Homer," are layered, with Frisell's warm guitar dancing and spiraling off his own lines. Others still, like the acoustic "Made to Shine," sound like two guitars, when they are most likely just Frisell displaying his deftly understated fretboard abilities. There's also a psychedelic undercurrent to some of the songs with the woozy sparkle of "Kentucky Derby," and the chunky, fragmentary power chords of "Think About It," evoking Jimi Hendrix. Aural experimentation is evident throughout much of Music IS, as Frisell pulls odd sounds out of his guitars, as on "In Line," in which his languid melodic lines are off-set by what sounds like a quirky touch-tone phone pattern. Elsewhere, he displays his love of roots and folk music, reworking his evocative "The Pioneers" off 1999's Good Dog, Happy Man, into a far-eyed ballad, rife with pastoral sadness. Similarly, "Monica Jane," an original from his early ECM years, sounds like a long-lost traditional song that might have been written during the Civil War. With Music IS, Frisell offers an intimate window into his creative process, an open conversation with himself. Thankfully, that conversation also remains open to, and deeply satisfying for, the listener. ~ Matt Collar

  • Format: Vinyl
  • Released: 04/13/2018
  • Genre: Jazz