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All We Are Saying...

4.1 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 27, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Consummate guitarist, composer and musical interpreter Bill Frisell has assembled a trusted ensemble consisting of Jenny Scheinman (violin), Tony Scherr (bass), Greg Leisz (guitars) and Kenny Wollesen (drums) to record his definitive take on the classic songs of John Lennon. The project has long been in the works--one could go as far back as the first time he heard the Beatles at the age of 13. Fast forward a few decades and Frisell is asked to put together an impromptu set in honor of John Lennon as part of a special event in Paris. The preparation, performances and reception to these compositions was an inspiration nurtured to fruition with this project. Recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and produced by Lee Townsend.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Across the Universe
  2. Revolution
  3. Nowhere Man
  4. Imagine
  5. Please Please Me
  6. You've Got Hide Your Love Away
  7. Hold On
  8. In My Life
  9. Come Together
  10. Julia
  11. Woman
  12. #9 Dream
  13. Love
  14. Beautiful Boy
  15. Mother
  16. Give Peace a Chance


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 27, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Savoy Jazz
  • ASIN: B005F9CORS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,964 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm a huge fan of Frisell, have seen him live numerous times as leader and sideman, and have probably twenty of his recordings. This is not one of his better outings.

I gave this one a chance before writing this review, but in the end what we have is faithful readings of Lennon and not much more. Now, Frisell did say that was his intent, to not change anything up and make the tunes unrecognizable or overtly jazzy. To that end Frisell is to be commended. There's not much worse than hearing a bunch of jazz reharmonizations of Beatles tunes. The problem then is, what do you do? In Frisell's case, the idea is that hearing these tunes come through the unmistakeable sound and approach of Bill Frisell (and this band) is enough. Unfortunately, it's not. The problem is not the band, since these guys have been playing together a long time and sound great as a unit. The problem is two-fold: (1) Hearing the melody of a tune stated over and over without any actual singing doesn't merit repeated listening. Actually, there's a name for music like that: Muzak, or Elevator Music if you prefer. Say what you will, but the very first tune here (Across the Universe) sets the tone, and by the third reading of the verse/chorus I was bored. You either do something, or you sing the tune, or you have Muzak. (2) Some of the selected tunes don't work. One of the obvious ones is "Mother". This is such a powerful Lennon performance that a trio reading of it is doomed from the start. There is nothing that can match Lennon's painful wailing at the end of Mother, and Frisell's take (unfortunately) trivializes it with the standard build, build, get louder, more fills - approach. This is one example, there's others.
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Format: Audio CD
I'd like to set the stage a bit...I "knew of" this album because I'd seen ads announcing its arrival. I heard it by accident. I was in a local bookstore and heard a sort of Windham Hill-ish version of "Across The Universe" being played over the sound system, but it had more teeth than the usual new age fare...some nice pedal steel (REALLY nice), a very dynamic (but not overpowering) presence to the drums (Ringo played a MUCH bigger part in that band than most people realize).

That was followed by a loose, amiable version of "Revolution"...made me think of the Grateful Dead's inclusion of the song in some of their later-period concerts. At this point I'm thinking "OK, it's some kind of Beatles tribute CD." As the song progresses, it ventures off into an almost jazzy western swing kind of vibe. Now I'm thinking "Who IS this?"

As a Beatles purist, in the overwhelming majority of instances, I feel that Beatles music is best left to The Beatles. There have been some admirable spins on the legacy here and there, but more often than not, a cover version of a Beatles song makes me want to pull out the original and have a listen.

You're then almost a minute and a half into the next track before the melody line of "Nowhere Man" reveals itself...the setup is somewhat like "Tomorrow Never Knows" from "Revolver" mixed with more of the pedal steel and a sort of cosmic cowpoke New Riders of the Purple Stage sort of rave-up. Once it kicks into the melody line, it remains a mix of genres, and around the three and a half minute mark, the musicians veer from the strict melody again into a nice improv. Now I'm really paying attention.
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Format: Audio CD
The first half of Novemeber 2011 was a particularly reflective period for me. A long-time colleague was killed in a car accident, and on 11th November I went to Ypres to commemorate Armistice on what was the 11th year of the new Millennium.

On the drive home from Ypres, I listened to this CD for the first time. It was wonderful. I should explain that I come to this conclusion (and to the CD for that matter)out of a love of Beatles music and do not have a knowledge of the work of Bill Frisell.

The opening track was "Across The Universe". But as I was driving at the time, I could not read the album information. And so I immediately found myself playing an entertaining game of that "Name That Tune". I was trying to guess which song Bill was playing from the opening bars before the main melody started (sometimes this proved trickier than you might imagine).

The magic of "Across the Universe" came to life in an instant because in addition to the beautiful arrangement and performances, it perfectly captured my mood at that moment. It was understated but hugely enjoyable and brought back memories of the time when I first heard the "Let It Be" album. No need for words as they came flooding back into my mind at once.

And so the album progresses. There are uplifting numbers ("Revolution", "Please Please Me", "Number 9 Dream"). There are reflective numbers ("In My Life", "Hold On", "Beautiful Boy"). And there is pure Lennon ("Mother", "Imagine", "Woman"). All are wonderfully recorded. And for me, at least, they brought back many thoughts and memories/emotions that I would have considered to have been lost had I not listened to this CD.

Perhaps that's where the magic of this recording lies. It's an excellent selection of John Lennon's work.
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