Bill Frisell: Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid
Bill Frisell (guitar)
Have a Little Faith (Elektra Nonesuch 79301-2)
Composed by Aaron Copland.
Recorded: New York, March 1992
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
William Bonney, known as "Billy the Kid," was a young punk who wreaked havoc in Lincoln County, NM. His bad reputation, though, was jarringly altered when quintessential Americana composer Aaron Copland wrote his high-stepping music for the ballet Billy the Kid. Then another Billy wreaked his own happy havoc on Copland's multi-part composition--William Frisell, always cheerfully eager to string-shape or guitar-warp standards, folk songs, pop tunes, and originals alike.
The work opens and closes peacefully, with guitar, clarinet, accordion, and rhythm all sticking close to the chart. In between, sixshooters (well, five) blaze from hell to breakfast as Don Byron burbles and slips, Guy Klucevsek squirts and wheezes, and the rhythm section manages to hold it all together while simultaneously knocking everything sideways. And Bill? The grinnin' guitar kid sounds like he never had more fun, whether sliding or chiding, yearning, or burning a hole through the score.
Billy the Kid launches the CD; the trad tune Billy Boy ends it. The album is Frisell's impish self-portrait.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher