Bill Frisell - Beautiful Dreamers

Album review. Bill Frisell's uniquely personal take on jazz continues with this fine new release.

Savoy Jazz

Release date: August 31st 2010

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

 Bill Frisell – Beautiful Dreamers cover

On Bill Frisell's first album for Savoy Jazz he is joined by Eyvind Kang (viola) and Rudy Royston (drums), an unconventional line up that delivers. As he states:

'For a long time I'd had the dream of making a trio with Eyvind Kang and Rudy Royston….. We played our first gig on June 7, 2008 in Eugene, Oregon and from the first note, it was working. Each time we get together the music feels new.....and old. Backwards and forwards. Up and down. Anything is possible. I can't wait to hear what happens next.'

This exactly captures what is special about this tremendous album as, in sixteen tracks, the centre shifts from low down gumbo blues ('It's Nobody's Fault But Mine', 'Worried Woman' – paying tribute, perhaps, to guitarist Hubert Sumlin who lit up the Howlin' Wolf band) to Saturday night dance hall band ('Beautiful Dreamer, 'Tea For Two') to experimentalist mood music ('Love Sick', 'No Time To Cry', 'Baby Cry', 'Sweetie') to very traditional jazz ('Benny's Bugle' – a tribute to Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian), to country hoedown ('Keep On The Sunny Side') to send-up of Pat Metheny's Orchestrion ('Better Than A Machine') to pop smaltz ('Going Out Of My Head') to beautiful power ballad ('All We Can Do', 'Who Was That Girl?')…….

Bill Frisell Group photo
Photo Credit: Sharp Group

This should be too eclectic a mix, but it all works. Central to this is Bill Frisell's complete ease with guitar as his personal voice – the often quoted observation that great players, like Miles Davis on trumpet, make their instrument their own. But it also has much to do with Eyvind Kang's viola playing, moving now from a second guitar-like voice on plucked strings to sweeping open voiced bowed playing. And much is owed to Rudy Royston's perceptive drumming. Harmonic freedom is gained by the omission of bass and piano, a telling discovery.

A great, enjoyable album. Highly recommended. Another candidate for best jazz album of the year.

You can preview the whole album here.

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