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The Friday Morning Listen: Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian

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Last night, I had dinner with a friend. We cooked some bacon cheddar burgers and almond rice and washed it down with a couple of beers. The Lounge Lizards were oozing from the stereo.

Then? Well, then we plugged in a few instruments and attempted to dream up a few things. First it was me on an old, wheezy Wurlitzer electric piano (love that vibrato!) and Eric playing my Gibson ES-175 at frightening volume levels. That was kind of interesting, especially since I don't actually know how to play the piano. Still, we both listened and came up with a Derek Bailey on acid sort of thing.

After I switched back to the guitar (played at a more 'normal' and non-distorted volume) and Eric picked up one of his saxes, the music went off in a different direction. I tried to follow, and then morph, the phrases and overblown passages coming from the horn. It certainly wasn't what anyone would call "pretty," but it seemed to work. For phase three, Eric sat behind the Wurlitzer (and later, the electric bass) and I switched to a Fender Stratocaster. This time volume, distortion, and dissonance were celebrated. Hmmm… maybe 'celebrated' isn't the right word. How about 'visited'? That's not quite right either. You know, there's that line from a Grateful Dead song about the music playing the band? There's truth in that idea. After many minutes of reacting to sounds, reacting to those reactions, and on… it can and does feel like the music itself is in charge of things.

Looking back at the experience, what was most interesting about it was that me and Eric had never played together before. We'd spent hours talking about music, but had never shared a single note. So I suppose this wasn't improvisation in its purest form, since our respective backgrounds were not a complete mystery. The session didn't exactly produce any earthshattering results, but it make me want to do it again. Lots of musical thoughts were provoked and definitely deserve further exploration.

None of this is meant to imply, in any way, that we sounded like Messrs. Frisell, Carter, and Motian. I bought this CD just a couple of days ago and have played it once (if not several) times a day. Three giants of modern jazz put a subtle spin on country, pop, and jazz tunes, my favorite being the elongated version of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." If I made a best-of jazz list for 2006, this recording would definitely be in the top five.

No. To be honest, I got out of bed about an hour ago, picked up a book I've been reading about Laurel Canyon, and for a little while anyway, completely forgot that today was Friday. That's what happens we you take a week off at the end of the year. That's what happens when you try to give your brain a rest. It's a good thing to do.

Happy New Year, everybody.

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About Mark Saleski

  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    I’ve only heard this one once so far, but it sounded good to me. Honestly, with Frisell on it, how could it be bad?

    Happy New Year to you too, Mark. I look forward to enjoying more quality reviews from you in 2007 :&)

    -P