Bill Frisell

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


  • Nonesuch

By signing to an artsy-fartsy label like Nonesuch (which carries Richard Goode's Beethoven and historic stuff like George Gershwin and Jelly Roll Morton piano roll transcriptions), guitarist Frisell signals that he takes his instrumental pursuits very seriously. Luckily for us, this never bogs down the playing. Brian Eno could learn a thing or two about how Frisell combines ambient textures with musicianly nuance. Which is another way of saying that this not only makes great dinner music, it fills in awkward silences with uncommonly tasteful asides. Robin Holcomb shows up to sing Hazel Dickens's “Will Jesus Wash the Bloodstains From Your Hands” and Neil Young's “One of These Days,” which will set you off wondering why Young doesn't creep his way onto more country efforts. (And where is that Bonnie Raitt country outing?) In the quiet, measured fluidity of instrumentals like “Keep Your Eyes Open,” Frisell mines an intricate modesty that makes his style an inspired balance between formal and casual. The sparring between Frisell and dobroist Jerry Douglas in “We're Not From Around Here” sounds less like friendly jamming than a friendly head game gone awry. With friends like Douglas, who needs session players?

— Tim Riley

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