Bill Frisell: Big Sur (2013)
Frisell's aural snapshots of Big Sur tender an alluring vista melded with melodic content and occasional detours amid a polychromatic framework, mottled with understated themes and contrasting interactions with the strings contingent. Pieces such as "The Animals" project solstice via a somber strings part, but counterbalanced by the guitarist's edgy overtones and scraping techniques, evoking the image of a scene complete with condors nesting along the cliffs. Indeed, the band summons a great deal of imagery.
Drummer Rudy Royston lays down a flashy rock pulse during "A Beautiful View," anchoring Frisell's gentle electric guitar voicings and odd-metered choruses, contrasting "We All Love Neil Young," where he engages in quaint dialogues with violinist Jenny Scheinman for a rather quaint, folk-like ballad. Composition-based diversity is a key aspect and shines on the brooding rock groove modeled with a two-note melody, executed within the perimeters of "Shackled Up." The closing "Far Away" finds the band perpetuating a gradual ascension, marked by Frisell's stoic electric guitar phrasings, plush with atmospherics and shadings that shift this tone poem out to sea, so to speak.
Big Sur isn't a radical change of ideology when considering Frisell's past, chamber-tinted folk musings, but it excels as a platform that should feed the imaginative powers while shedding newly found hues and nuances on subsequent listens.
Track Listing: The Music of Glen Deven Ranch; Sing Together Like a Family; A Good Spot; Going to California; The Big One; Somewhere; Gather Good Things; Cry Alone; The Animals; Highway 1; A Beautiful View; Hawks; We All Love Neil Young; Big Sur; On the Lookout; Shacked Up; Walking Stick (for Jim Cox); Song for Lana Weeks; Far Away.
Personnel: Bill Frisell: guitar; Jenny Scheinman: violin; Eyvind Kang: viola; Hank Roberts: cello; Rudy Royston: drums.
Record Label: Okeh
Style: Modern Jazz