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The Friday Morning Listen: Bill Frisell

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First posted on Mark Is Cranky:

When I’m on vacation, the gravitational allure of book and music stores seems to increase. I swear, it’s as though the stores just know I’m in the area and proceed to toss a couple of extra pellets of collector attractant into the furnace.

So yesterday I’m skulking (mostly in the jazz section, though just for fun I did pick up Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Mack Daddy) around Bull Moose Music. Three recordings leapt from the racks into my hands. Susie Ibarra’s Folkloriko, Big Satan’s soulsaved.hear, and Bill Frisell’s Richter 858.

The Frisell CD was a special project for him. Music inspired by the paintings of Girard Richter. The group of musicians included past cohort Hank Roberts on cello and newer faces Eyvind Kang (viola) and Jenny Scheinman (violin).

If you described this music as “guitar with string ensemble” that would make it sound kinda staid and formal. Not even on the same planet. If you’re familiar with Frisell’s work you have to go all the way back to his early, mostly acoustic records to dig out the first reference point. Then move forward to the electric freakout of a collaboration with Vernon Reid on Smash and Scatteration. The string section here is closer to a jazz rhythm section, with Frisell shifting from clattering, dissonant punctuations to full-on, ham radio tuning noise skronk. It’s as textured as Richter’s paintings.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Becky’s Diner awaits.

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