Once guitarist and composer Bill Frisell began working on an album in tribute to John Lennon, memories and emotions he'd long associated with the late legend's music, both with The Beatles and as a solo artist, caught up to him. "Thinking about almost 50 years ago hearing some of those things for the first time," he says, "it ended up being kind of a heavy thing to do."
In collaborating with a few friends – guitarist Greg Leisz, violinist Jenny Scheinman, drummer Kenny Wollesen, and bassist Tony Scherr – the experience was made all the more poignant. "It really did bring us together in this way I’d never felt before," Frisell reflects. "It was almost like this healing, warm cloud came over us that the music put there."
Throughout such classics as "In My Life," "Beautiful Boy," and "Across The Universe," All We Are Saying..., which will be released on September 27 by Savoy Jazz/429 Records, honors Lennon’s artistry with considerate, inspired performances.
"I didn’t prepare for it," says Frisell of the effort overall, "but then it was like I’d been preparing for it my whole life."
In making the album did you learn anything about John Lennon’s songs that you perhaps weren’t as aware of before?
It reminded me of how deceptively simple they are sometimes. Some of them maybe just have two chords or three chords. If you analyze it in a conservatory kind of way, it’s like, “Well there’s this, and there’s that.” It doesn’t seem that complicated, but then what happens with it is so extraordinary. You listen for five seconds and then the song just latches onto you. You can’t shake it off. And it’s not because of some big corporate, commercial machinery that’s rammed it down our throats. It’s genuinely because of the music, I think. There really is something transcendent about it; it transcends all. So much of it is so personal to him, but it’s also so universal at the same time. We all know what he’s talking about.