Monday, January 5, 2009

Bill Frisell w/ Dave Holland and Elvin Jones -

It is thanks to a 'Weird Nightmare' that I am aware of Bill Frisell. Appearing throughout a 1992 tribute to the greatest jazz artist of all-time, Mr. Charles Mingus (called Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus, Columbia Records), Frisell pulls-off some great guitar tricks and experiments with artists like Charlie Watts, Henry Rollins, Chuck D, Keith Richards and Leonard Cohen.
Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, presents another opportunity for this forager of new paths in jazz guitar.
He uncovers a quieter, slow moving approach, involving electric and acoustic guitars (he gets credit for loops too) in this trio setting. Imagining a better rhythm section to fill out his band is tough. Holland came to fame with Miles in the Bitches Brew sessions, while Jones kept time behind names like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and McCoy Tyner, besides leading his own bands.
This is a 2001 release on Nonesuch Records and carries some of that label's trend in sound. It is perhaps comparable to Ry Cooder's work with Manuel Galban in some ways. The twang is there and a beach in Hawaii does not seem to far away while the CD floats on by. Of course, only using a trio, a basic sound is expected, but this release keeps things interesting. The late Elvin Jones would have been roughly 64 years old on this recording and the crazy bop work of his early days is not found here. A menacing intro on a tune called "Again" is the only evidence of his utmost capabilities. He fills any space Frisell's compositions leave for improvising with the skill of subtlety, instead. Holland too, is kept relatively tame. It is a litte bit frustrating not to see any group compositions among the song credits.
"Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa" is a creepy, nine-minute adventure. The soundtrack to a scene taking place in the alley behind a blues bar in a thunderstorm sounds about right, to describe the highlight of this 12-track treasure.