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“Bill Frisell has had a lot of practice putting high concept into a humble package. Long hailed as one of the most distinctive and original improvising guitarists of our time, he has also earned a reputation for teasing out thematic connections with his music... He has drawn recent, long-form inspiration from the rural portrait photography of Mike Disfarmer and the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.
Big Sur (OKeh), fits squarely into this portfolio, with a welcome twist. As the title implies, it’s about the rugged sweep of California coastline that runs south of the Monterey Peninsula, with a sound that often courts the majestic, this suite-like work attempts to evoke an experience, a sense of place... The sound of these pieces convincingly suggests a blush of discovery bound by larger purpose... What’s striking about Big Sur is its determined strength of melody, along with its shrewd marshaling of resources. It merges two of Mr. Frisell’s recent bands: his 858 Quartet, essentially a string ensemble, and Beautiful Dreamers, a hardier post-bop trio. So along with its leader, Big Sur features the violist Eyvind Kang, the violinist Jenny Scheinman, the cellist Hank Roberts and the drummer Rudy Royston: musicians with a strong feeling for Mr. Frisell’s language... it’s not an album that hangs on the guitar playing in general, deriving more purpose from chamber-like actions. The big picture is the point, and as usual, credit is due to Lee Townsend, Mr. Frisell’s longtime producer.
But it’s Mr. Frisell’s fingerprints that are all over this music. ‘A Beautiful View’, with its convergence of Copland-esque grandeur and arpeggiated shimmer, could hardly have come from another source. Likewise with ’Going to California’ and its air of noble austerity. And ‘Shacked Up’ is a slow-drag country waltz that milks the half-step dissonance in its melody, as if Bob Wills were tipping his hat to Thelonious Monk... It’s clear, in any case, that Mr. Frisell has been thinking along these lines almost since the beginning. There’s a reason that Jazz at Lincoln Center had him program a series called “Roots of Americana” for its coming season.”
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BY JUAN RODRIGUEZ / THE MONTREAL GAZETTE - June 27TH, 2013 * An interview with Bill Frisell
By Chris Barton / Los Angeles Times - published July 10th, 2013
by Stewart Oksenhorn / Aspen Times