Bill Frisell
Blues Dream
Nonesuch (

cd cover Bill Frisell started his recording career in Europe in the late 1970s writing and playing music evocative of space and place. Two decades later he is still doing essentially the same in a less abstract, more native and concretely American way. Nonesuch has just released his 14th recording with them and it uses a lot of the ideas Frisell has been exploring in recent years. By the early 1990s, Frisell began to outgrow the frenetic, noisy "Downtown" scene (of NYC) and wandered into the nation's interior where he became charmed with more rural flavored roots music and recovered his own vintage popular music inspirations. In his latest vision, the guitarist and his ensemble number seven, consisting of a jazz trio (Ron Miles trumpet, Billy Drewes alto sax, Curtis Fowlkes trombone) added to his current working quartet (slide man Greg Leisz, bassist David Piltch, drummer Kenny Wollesen and himself).

Frisell has blended the various American tongues of jazz, country, bluegrass, instrumental R&B/rock, and now blues within any one composition and then altered the recipe proportions track to track with a hand of classical chamber music intricacy, patching together an entire album of singular, genre-rich delicacies. The approach has become pastiche; post-Ivesian, illustrious and easy-going. His music these days makes you relax yet contains subtle structural logic and solo-surficial/group-interactive nuances worthy of the closest inspections. Although Frisell warms his palette in places with the familiar groove and friendly melodic phrase, he understands the anthemics of film music and preserves a heart-hungry distance in the result. What do we see by the light of these sounds? An impersonal dream described by professionals? testifying perhaps to empty roads only occasionally disturbed by a fleeting auto for example? Or something personal; pain's past? yearning's still hopeful future? Both exquisite metaphor and inevitable victim of the search for the right horizon, "Blues Dream" in large measure mirrors that peculiarly American lonesomeness even while becoming a sometimes moving and pithy canon to behold. - Steve Taylor

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