LABELS: Elektra Nonesuch
PERFORMER: Bill Frisell (guitar); Don Byron (clarinet, bass-clarinet); Billy Drewes (alto saxophone); Curtis Fowlkes (trombone); Kermit Driscoll (bass); Joey Baron (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79316-2
A return to original compositions after his much-acclaimed collection Have a Little Faith (which featured an eclectic selection of material by everyone from Charles Ives and Aaron Copland to Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters), This Land continues Bill Frisell’s exploration of an utterly distinctive, often downright idiosyncratic soundscape. Typically, Frisell’s music features an astonishing variety of electric guitar sounds, from the Hendrix-influenced helter-skelter fluidity through muted banjo-like plucking, to his trademark – a gently squeezed lyricism.
This is set against the carefully textured backdrops provided by unusual and delicate combinations of instruments ranging from the bass clarinet through trombone to alto saxophone. Frisell’s penchant for including everything from country music to blues, from acid rock to jazz, has led some critics to brand him a musical magpie, but here, as is the case with most of his recent output, his singular vision and deep knowledge of all branches of American musical history makes a nonsense of such carping. Highly recommended. Chris Parker