One day I was looking through the CD section of Tower Records* when some album artwork caught my eye. Bill Frisell/ gone, just like a train with album art by Jim Woodring was just begging to be listened to. Being familiar with Jim Woodring’s art prompted me to take a chance on this album. Bill Frisell is often classified as a Jazz guitarist, but his sound is full of folk, blues, and rock influences. More importantly is how Frisell weaves these styles together with a gracefulness that is soulful and sweet.
With Victor Krauss on bass and Jim Keltner on drums, Bill Frisell (guitar) creates an intimate and mysterious sound that carries the listener away. Guitar notes echo by and shift in pitch while a solid upright bass keeps moving along. Jim Keltner (drums) maintains the syncopation while adding his own signature to this wavering soundstage. Without mistake, this see-saw of sound and melody is enchanting while also very familiar.
The first track, Blues for Los Angeles**, starts off like as a train building steam. Slowly, but steadily this trio pulls out for the long drive. Rhythmically being held in check by Keltner and Krauss allows Bill Frisell to paint the town with his powerful guitar improvisations. Soon we are greeted with huge bluesy guitar tones that pour out of an enchanting and deep stereo field. Careful not to overplay, Frisell manages to strike a tasteful sustaining of notes and silence just where it fits the music.
Another great track, Lookout for hope, starts with a repeating bass line while the drums slowly slip into the beat. Not long after, Bill Frisell plucks a few notes, then begins the melody. You are carried through this journey with steady deep bass and drums that scatter and realign the song’s direction. That direction of music, so well maintained by Frisell, allows these musicians to explore the haunting melody.
Other tracks, such as Verona, Egg Radio***, and Girl ask Boy (part 1 and 2) have a familiar blues/folk influence while also keeping a uniqueness all their own. The bottom line is that Bill Frisell delivers with this album on all fronts. Musicianship is grade A, song writing is amazing, and the recording is exemplary.
*Tower Record was a retail store that sold physical media that contained music recordings for the public to buy.
**Song sample here
***Song sample here