Bill Frisell: Gimme A Holler


Gimme A Holler


Bill Frisell (acoustic guitar)


Nashville (Nonesuch 79415-2 CD)

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Bill Frisell (acoustic guitar),

Jerry Douglas (dobro), Viktor Krauss (bass)


Composed by Bill Frisell


Recorded: September 1995 & October – November, 1996 at Sound Emporium, Nashville, Tennessee


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

It’s ironic that Nashville, Bill Frisell’s farthest wander from recognizable jazz at this point in his career, recorded in 1995-1996 with some of bluegrass music’s finest players, was his first to earn him a Downbeat Critic’s Poll winner for Best Jazz Album of the Year and Best Guitarist of the Year in 1998. I suppose it’s one bold move complementing another – jazz’s principal magazine urging Frisell to continue focusing on simultaneous boundary obliteration and stylistic formation.

Frisell’s greatest achievement with Nashville may be that fans of country and jazz alike can both logically claim possession of the music heard throughout. This music, upon first listen, sounds like bluegrass, and with Jerry Douglass of Union Station fame trading licks with Frisell, it’s hard to argue that country music isn’t being played here. Yet Frisell’s own liner notes suggests another angle to view this music:

“Usually with my quartet, I write out my compositions. We start by reading the charts and then take a tune into different directions as we get familiar with playing it together. But I didn't present the music that way to the guys in Nashville. It was more of a challenge for me. I played the tunes and they all just reacted. It was exciting to see how quickly they learned the pieces.”

Executing a role reversal for the ages, Frisell rather ingeniously offered that somewhat of a jazz approach be taken to bluegrass music by infusing a collectively improvised, create-your-own-role atmosphere to a style where the dominating mindset is to know your role and stick to it. Hearing “Gimme a Holler” with this in mind completely changes the listening experience – it may sound like country, but the listening, the chance-taking, and the unpredicted moments of cohesion from quick interactions brings to mind the finest moments of pure jazz spontaneity.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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