Bill Frisell: Strange Meeting


Strange Meeting


Bill Frisell (guitar)


This Land (Elektra 79316)

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Bill Frisell (guitar), Don Byron (clarinet), Billy Drewes (alto sax), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Kermit Driscoll (bass), Joey Baron (drums).

Composed by Bill Frisell


Recorded: October, 1992


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Bill Frisell’s pair of recordings from 1992, a wide-ranging collection of covers entitled Have a Little Faith and this set of original compositions, This Land, present a conscious departure away from the ECM sound that dominated Frisell’s early years and a step towards a more organic, traditionally assembled acoustic group. There’s a unavoidable emphasis on unearthing the riches of Americana on these two recordings, whether spanning the American songbook on Have a Little Faith (he covers Aaron Copland, Stephen Foster, Madonna, Sonny Rollins, Bob Dylan and John Hiatt, among others), or the compositional focus, American West artwork, and album title itself on This Land. Frisell was never bound by the strictness of a single genre, but with these two outings, he seems to dive headfirst into accepting the role of an Americana experimenter, inextricably linking jazz with country, rock, folk, and blues styles and already accomplishing what most struggle with when combining genres – forming a cohesive, identifiable personal style.

“Strange Meeting” is a dark, loping groove in C-minor that can be studied theoretically for its compositional value yet be immediately accessible to non-musicians for its immediate ease and clarity as a mood statement – an important dichotomy that hints at the growing crossover popularity of Frisell’s music. Note the tension-inducing space left by the drums, the syncopated bass-line that lands on beat one on the “B” section, and the patience required by all players to establish texture through horn layering before Frisell begins to improvise.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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