Bill Frisell - History, Mystery (3 stars)

Bill Frisell



This is the biggest group that the guitarist has used on record in a while, but the eight-piece ensemble – incorporating a string quartet of violin, viola, cello and bass – has an intimate, chamber music feel that never feels crowded or too heavily textured. The music, mostly recorded live, features Frisell’s characteristic eclectic range of sonic explorations, borrowing widely from diverse genres but blurring and reshaping them in the process.

Most of the compositions are his own, but he also includes idiosyncratic covers of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’, Thelonious Monk’s ‘Jackie-ing’ and Lee Konitz’s ‘Sub-Conscious Lee’. The generally spacious and occasionally meandering ambiance grows a bit repetitive over the full stretch of the two discs included here, but you are unlikely to listen to it in that way anyway, and the music is as thoughtful and engaging as ever from this notably individual talent.

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