Bill Frisell: Hard Plains Drifter


Hard Plains Drifter


The Bill Frisell Band


Before We Were Born (Elektra 60843)

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Bill Frisell (guitar), Hank Roberts (cello), Kermit Driscoll (bass), Joey Baron (drums).

Composed by Bill Frisell. Produced and Arranged by John Zorn


Recorded: September 1988


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

John Zorn has called on Bill Frisell to fill the guitar seat in many of his groups for upwards of 25 years now Ė beginning with Frisellís contribution to Zornís The Big Gundown in 1984-85. Through the years, Frisell was a member of Zornís thrash-metal-jazz-and-everything-else group Naked City, performed on many of Zornís Filmworks releases, and contributed solo acoustic guitar readings of Zornís world-music compositions on Masada Guitars.

This thirteen-plus minute whirlwind track is one of their most collaborative efforts. Penned by Frisell and produced and arranged by Zorn, the Bill Frisell Band moves through every imaginable genre here, playing heavy metal for a few bars, moving to a country groove, then swinging behind a guitar solo before moving on to a brand new set of stylistic vignettes. For a real treat, check out the chart for the entire tune in Frisellís Songbook Ė youíll find that there are 38 sections to this tune that are all briefly notated with musical lines/chord changes and all-capitalized stylistic commands (for example: 28. FREE QUARTET / 29. SOLO / 30. MEMPHIS GROOVE / 31. REGGAE / 32. NEW ORLEANS / 33. THRASHÖ GO CRAZY). Itís surely the most challenging and unique track in the Frisell discography Ė and a tour-de-force documentation of the thriving relationship of two of jazzís renegade composers/performers.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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