As a departure from his forays into twisted
Americana and world music, the inventive guitarist delivers
a bona-fide jazz album. The all-star threesome performs like
a seasoned band, and Frisell remains the only six-string poet
of his generation. - Steve Futterman, The New Yorker Best
Guitarist Bill Frisell is a master of reflective,
quiet but subtly quirky lines that flow from the lyrical to
the angular. He can also sling arrows into the mix, but here
in the company of two of jazz's greatest rhythm players, Frisell
steers away from sudden blasts and settles into the fluidity
of cliché-free improvisation. What's remarkable is how
untethered the leader and trio play. Ron Carter steers with
his unpredictable bass runs, countermelodies and motifs as
Paul Motian flicks the cymbals in dance-like support while
Frisell muses soulfully through pop standbys like Hank Williams' "I'm
So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "You Are My Sunshine," ironically
sketched in a melancholic mood. It's significant that the trio
delectably covers two Monk tunes ("Raise Four," "Misterioso")
given that Frisell is the Thelonious of jazz guitar. —Dan
The countrified tone of jazz guitarist Bill Frisell leaves
a lot of twangy reverb through this rarefied trio collaboration.
Yet it still sounds jazzy when the three titans, including
uber-bassist Ron Carter and Philly-born stick man Paul Motian,
launch into an oddly mesmerizing deconstruction of "You
Are My Sunshine" or a take of Hank Williams' "I'm
So Lonesome I Could Cry." Mix-and-match is a staple
of this trio, and their success can be measured partly in
how it all sounds so seamless. These guys provide some persuasive
Monk in their hiccupping take of the master's "Raise
Four" or the vaulting intervals of his "Misterioso." Yet
they also find some gutbucket in the traditional "Pretty
Polly," rendered here in an art-house, fractured way.
The liquid excursions get oblique by the end. Frisell, who
has worked with such '60s icons as drummer Ginger Baker and
singer Marianne Faithfull, is a wild card no matter where
he shows up, pulling from genres near and far. Yet he and
his cohorts end up exploding the definition of a jazz trio.
- Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer
"A gorgeous, restrained meeting of the minds, this recording
emboides fine, subtle improvisations from three of today's
most iconic players."
- Troy Collins, All About Jazz
Despite his deep harmonic language and highly evolved personal
sound, enigmatic guitarist Bill Frisell has often been criticized
for musical choices that appear to ignore his jazz roots. But
he treats jazz simply as one part of a larger musical continuum
where Thelonious Monk and Hank Williams can harmoniously coexist.
Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian presents him at his jazziest,
yet it’s still unequivocally a Bill Frisell record, with
the broad scope and quirky mannerisms that have defined his
career from the very beginning.
Compare Ron Carter and Miles Davis’ “Eighty-One” from
E.S.P. (Legacy Recordings, 1965) with the version that opens
this record. With one guitar, Frisell distills the essential
harmonies of a quintet and delivers them without the feeling
that anything has been lost. His mastery of elongated notes
and seemingly infinite decays creates a rich sound that’s
appealing, ethereal and often ambiguous.
It’s a shame that Carter isn’t the first-call bassist
he used to be, because here he demonstrates an unassailable
groove, muscular sound and big ears on Frisell’s “Monroe,” first
heard on Good Dog, Happy Man (Nonesuch, 1999). But instead
of Jim Keltner’s firm backbeat, Motian and Carter give
it a gently lilting swing.
Frisell’s innate sense of humour has always made him
an astute interpreter of Monk. Here two blues pieces—the
lesser-known “Raise Four” and classic “Misterioso”—are
given definitive contemporary treatments. In both cases swing
is the thing, but Motian—as off-kilter a drummer as Frisell
is a guitarist—creates the subtlest unsettled feeling,
despite Carter’s firm anchor.
This is also Frisell’s most sonically unaffected disc.
Motian’s “Introduction,” from It Should’ve
Happened a Long Time Ago (ECM, 1985), is more direct, with
just the subtlest hint of looping replacing the dense guitar
synth of the original. Proof that sometimes all you need is
the simplest instrumentation to create a wellspring of ideas
on songs ranging from the country of “I’m So Lonesome,
I Could Cry” to the mainstream “On the Street Where
Regardless of where he finds his music, Frisell can always
be counted on for an odd-angled approach that keeps his musical
partners and listeners on their toes. Half the fun is not knowing
what’s coming next, and Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul
Motian may well be the most unpredictable mainstream record
you’ll ever hear. - John Kelman, All About Jazz
Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Aware/Columbia Records):
Here is a jazz guitar trio whose members embody over a century
of performing experience, yet they become progressively more
daring as years advance. Frisell continues his mining of American
roots music by evoking haunting tone colors from his inventive
electric guitar. His meshing with bassist Ron Carter and drummer
Paul Motian is telepathic. The covers of the traditional ballad "Pretty
Polly" and the country classic "I'm So Lonesome I
Could Cry" are radically transfigured harmonically, yet
remain reverently austere. "On the Street Where You Live" reflects
the trio's equal adeptness with gleeful Broadway lyricism.
Grade: A - Norman Weinstein, Christian Science Monitor
Instead of sporting a catchy album title, this creatively
collaborative CD has simply been christened with the names
of its three co-creators. With its stress on the musicians'
names, the unconventional title is especially significant
because the album is all about how these three independent
spirits are united here into three voices in one and one
voice in three.
Obviously, Bill Frisell's guitar is richly expressive throughout
a varied repertoire that hops from Thelonious Monk's mystical "Misterioso" to
Hank Williams' teary country classic, "I'm So Lonesome,
I Could Cry."
Yet the CD's often serene, sometimes edgy selections succeed
primarily as a splendid collective effort rather than as a
string of savory guitar solos.
You've got to pay as much attention to Ron Carter's grace on
bass and Paul Motian's perpetual motion rhythms on drums as
you do to Frisell's flights of imagination. Naturally, you
can enjoy listening to each player separately.
But the real payoff here is to simultaneously absorb all three
voices interweaving together as these empathetic musicians
connect on a deep intuitive level.
"Eighty-One" ambles amiably in a hip cowboy groove
- a bluesy view of riders of the purple sage. "You Are
My Sunshine" is warm and luminous. Monk's saucy "Raise
Four" is seasoned with brilliant capers.
And "On the Street Where You Live" is renovated with
fresh designs and brilliant corners that revitalize the old
neighborhood. - Owen McNally, The Hartford Courant
What, I've often wondered, sets Bill Frisell so far apart
from the jazz-guitar pack -- besides his inimitable watery
tone, sonic escapades, genre-hopping and depth of melodic and
harmonic ingenuity? The answer, as far as I'm concerned, is
quite simple: Frisell brings far more emotion and mood to his
playing than his contemporaries and most of his forebears.
When he performs Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome, I Could
Cry," which closes out this trio album, the guitarist
renders it as the genuinely sad song that it is. When Frisell
and his legendary mates -- drummer Paul Motian and bassist
Ron Carter -- tackle "On the Street Where You Live," it's
with a dose of whimsy and lighthearted swing. While last year's
double live set displayed the many sides of his eclectic musical
personality, this one hews closer to jazz, albeit through Frisell's
fisheye lens. (The disc will never be confused with Wes Montgomery.)
Frisell loves to take material regarded as schlock and plumb
for beauty and depth. This year's model is "You are My
Sunshine," which the trio imbues with a languid sense
of melancholy; the guitarist sprinkles in cagey dissonances,
not for irony's sake, but to show that such a tune can be given
a measure of gravitas. Most of the 10 selections (including
Monk's "Misterioso" and "Raise Four")
skew to slow to medium tempos. Motian's loosey-goosey drumming
provides the trio plenty of room to roam, while Carter's bass
brings a distinct muscularity. Frisell judiciously sprinkles
in loops and effects, which easily transcend gimmickry; his
phrasing is at turns fluid, contemplative and bracingly choppy.
Frisell's playing is devoid of stuntwork, all but free of showiness
-- this is a musician of the highest order whose instrument
happens to be the guitar. 4 stars --Eric Snider, CreativeLoafing.com