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Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian

14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 12, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For two days in February 2005, guitarist Bill Frisell joined upright bassist legend Ron Carter, a member of Miles Davis' groundbreaking 60s bands, and drummer Paul Motian, part of the equally-storied Bill Evans Trio, at Avatar Studios in Manhattan to record original compositions from Carter and Frisell, a pair of Thelonious Monk tunes, and a handful of the folk-country-Tin Pan Alley chestnuts that Frisell likes to disassemble and recombine in beautifully abstract form.

Bill Frisell created his own terrain when he first combined the doleful sounds of country music with the improvised dialogue of modern jazz. Those elements are in optimum balance here, an empathetic encounter that builds on the chemistry developed between Frisell and drummer Motian in the latter's trio. A corresponding bond with Carter is apparent from the opening "Eighty-one" (co-composed by the bassist for Miles Davis' classic E.S.P.), the trio showing a relaxed yet precise way with time and Frisell and Carter matching pitch bends. That string-band intimacy extends to Frisell's postmodern country as well, adding new and dark dissonances to "You Are My Sunshine," "Pretty Polly," and Hank Williams' "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry," while the group’s approach to Thelonious Monk is just as fresh on "Raise Four" and "Misterioso." More than just another superjam, this is a genuine band, the three musicians subtly commenting on and amplifying one another's nuances, and creating subtle transitions between solos. --Stuart Broomer

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 12, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,906 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tim Niland on September 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Eclectic guitarist Bill Frisell has long been one of my favorite musicians, his sense of humor and boundary-stretching big picture idea of what it is to play "jazz" appeals to me greatly. On this album, he has two other legendary musicians in tow, bassist Carter and drummer Motian and produces one of the "jazziest" albums of his eclectic career. Paul Motian has played with Frisell for years in a long running trio with saxophonist Joe Lovano, and Ron Carter has been the object of Frisell's admiration to the point of having a tune dedicated to him on Frisell's Blues Dream release. The music examines several different sub-genres. Two Thelonious Monk compositions, "Raise Four" and "Misterioso," give the trio a chance to stretch out interpreting the master's intricate compositions.

It wouldn't be a Bill Frisell album without a dose of Americana, in this case, covers of "You Are My Sunshine," Hank Williams "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and the traditional "Pretty Polly." Polly, in particular, is fascinating as Frisell takes an almost painterly approach deftly adding some electronic enhancements and feedback to create an ominous sound tapestry. Carter's rock solid bass work and Motian's agile percussion (especially his superb brushwork) are spot-on throughout the entire disc. The album is rounded out by one original from each band member, most notably Carter's spry "Eighty-One." Fans who were looking for Frisell to step out and play something akin to the music he made with Joey Baron and John Zorn may be a little disappointed, but music fans who appreciate fine teamwork with a little wry humor will find this disc quite enjoyable.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Rice on October 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I think this album was poorly perceived by most that have written reviews. I had no expectations about what the sounds would be when I listened to it and that may be why I love this album. I'm very accustomed to all three players and I think they all show incredible musicianship. The arrangements are harmonically dense but ethereal. My friends that aren't even musicians have found this album to be very listenable.

Bill Frisell displays wonderful tones from his Telecaster and never makes me long for a hollow bodied sound, even on the tunes that originate in jazz.

Paul Motian's playing is very tasteful and he plays off the counterpoint of Frisell and Carter wonderfully. As always, his timbre and tone color are amazing.

Ron Carter is my favorite bassist and the work on this album is as good as ever. His harmonic substitutions and bends (matching Frisell) are flawless. In one review they said Charlie Haden would have been a better choice. I like Charlie Haden a lot but I think the outcome would have been more predictable and anyone wanting those sounds should check out his album with Pat Metheny "Beyond the Missouri Sky."

The trio on this recording plays so well together I don't know how anyone could not love this album unless they didn't listen to it. Many people approach recordings with such a bias, even (especially) when it's their favorite players. I think this diminishes their ability to truly listen to the album. Don't let that happen to you with this album. Listen to the timbres, textures, and tone colors.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas V. Millington on November 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD after listening to some of its tracks at Borders. The musicianship and synergy between Bill Frisell, Ron Carter and Paul Motian really impressed me. The opening track -"Eighty-one," an old Miles Davis composition, is a nice hook and will entice listeners to experience the rest of the CD, which is excellent. My favorites, other than "Eighty-one" are "Pretty Polly," and "On the Street Where You Live." This is not to say that the other songs are bad--they are very good. I like the bluesy tinge that Frisell incorporates into the songs.

What struck me most about this album is how well the musicians blend their styles with each other. I immediately think of the synergy and musical understanding that Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Gary Peacock have when they play.

I was not familiar with Bill Frisell and based most of my jazz guitar experience on my encounters with Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and Django Reinhart. But now, after listening to this CD, I am a fan. This is an example of how three instruments played by three excellent musicians can produce an extraordinary jazz experience. More instrumentation is not necessarily better.

This is a great CD for fans of Bill Frisell, Ron Carter and Paul Motian and to those new to jazz and to the work of these great musicians.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jan P. Dennis on September 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Frisell, who with Pat Metheny invented what I call "heartland jazz," here presents his umpteenth excursion into such waters.

And stumbles slightly.

For me, things go wrong right at the start with his selection of bandmates, Paul Motian (drums) and Ron Carter (bass). In other settings, these are fine players, masters even. Here, they often seem like whales in Nebraska. Motian generally abandons his trademark minimalism, so brilliantly displayed, e.g., on I Have the Room Above Her, for what sounds almost like bombast, certainly not his usual MO. Ron Carter tries to incorporate lots of unusual harmonic and rhythmic moves that for me fall flat. Wouldn't it have been better to have someone like Matt Wilson in the drum chair? And what about Charlie Haden on bass?

To get the right heartland vibe, it either needs to be ironic or heartfelt. This music falls between those two stools, seemingly unable to make up its mind whether it wants the gimlet-eyed or straightforward approach. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of memorable moments. Frisell, admittedly, has perfected the way-out-West mournful guitar timbre, and it's fully, gloriously on display throughout. And the rhythm sections shines on the two Monk tunes ("Raise Four" and "Misterioso") and "On the Street Where You Live," much more typically up their alley than "You Are My Sunshine," "Pretty Polly," and "I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry." Nevertheless, these pieces seem to have little relationship to the core Americana vibe. For a disc that absolutely nails the right heartland sensibility, check out Ghost of Electricity by Junk Genius.
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