Bill Frisell - All We Are Saying
Consummate guitarist, composer and musical interpreter Bill Frisell has assembled a trusted ensemble consisting of Jenny Scheinman (violin), Tony Scherr (bass), Greg Leisz (guitars) and Kenny Wollesen (drums) to record his take on the classic songs of John Lennon. Titled “ALL WE ARE SAYING,” the project has long been in the works—one could go as far back as the first time he heard the Beatles at the age of 13. Fast forward a few decades and Frisell is asked to put together an impromptu set in honor of John Lennon as part of a special event in Paris. The preparation, performances and reception to these compositions was an inspiration nurtured to fruition with this project. Recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and produced by Lee Townsend, “ALL WE ARE SAYING” was released on Savoy Jazz on September 27, 2011.
Described by the Wall Street Journal as “the most innovative and influential jazz guitarist of the past 25 years” Frisell’s artistry has earned across the board praise for his instinctual musicianship—working both within and beyond the parameters of jazz music as he effortlessly incorporates elements of Americana, world, blues, classical, creating a rich and unique aural tapestry.
Says Frisell: “John Lennon's music has been with me, the band, everybody, the world...seems like forever. The songs are part of us. In our blood. There was nothing we really needed to do to prepare for this. We've been preparing our whole lives. The songs are there. All we had to do was play them. Everyone involved with this has their own personal, deep, long, relationship to John Lennon's music. It connects us all and brings us together. I feel blessed having the chance to play this music with these people”.
“All We Are Saying” song list:
Across the Universe
Please Please Me
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
In My Life
# 9 Dream
Give Peace a Chance
"Beatles and or John Lennon covers can be horrifying to behold. From the band who plays a song note for note with all the imagination of an accountant, to the performer who absolutely wrecks a classic by making it sound kitschy, the world is littered with songs that have been given something less than the royal treatment. But when placed in the hands of legendary maverick guitarist Bill Frisell, an album full of such John Lennon songs is engaging because the tracks become lyric-less re-imaginings rather than bland retreads or ridiculous send-ups.
Frisell is his usual spacey self with his guitar work, letting the chords linger in dreamy, somewhat off-kilter ways. It takes a minute for you to realize you’re listening to “Imagine” for instance, but the track’s iconic piano notes eventually come to life on Frisell’s guitar. And while Frisell wisely steers clear of more upbeat and raucous Lennon classics, he and his band (filled out by the admirable playing of steel guitarist Greg Leisz, violinist Jenny Scheinman, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen) give a good showing on the bluesy, distortion-heavy “Revolution” and their cool-as-ice version of “Come Together.” The Americana undertones that have laced themselves throughout Frisell’s work for the last decade or so also pop up throughout the record, giving tracks like “Across the Universe” a new feel to them.
Frisell has made a career out of thinking outside the box with respect to the music that he makes, and All We Are Saying… is no exception. It might seem like sacrilege for someone to do this, but if you’re familiar with Frisell’s musical bent then you’ll likely appreciate where this record ends up going. Covering Lennon tunes isn’t a wise idea for most artists, but Frisell and Co. make this an experience worth having." – Brian Palmer / Glide Magazine