Bill Frisell • Thomas Morgan

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Album title:
Small Town
Composer(s):
Bill Frisell; Thomas Morgan
Works:
Small Town
Performer:
Bill Frisell (electric guitar), Thomas Morgan (double bass)
Label:
ECM
Catalogue Number:
572 9057
Performance:
starstarstarstarstar
Recording:
starstarstarstarstar
5
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
Bill Frisell • Thomas Morgan

Over 30 years on from his ECM debut as leader, guitarist Bill Frisell is back with another masterclass in intimate extemporisation, accompanied by the reserved but responsive bass of Thomas Morgan. The set was recorded live at the Village Vanguard, a familiar haunt for Frisell, adding another layer of concentrated calm to the disc.

The music itself, with the guitarist’s resonating notes and old time Americana references, has an eerie quality. The western folk tune ‘Wildwood Flower’ reflects Frisell’s debt to guitarist Maybelle Carter, who played melody and rhythm simultaneously, while ‘What A Party’ is an impressionistic take on Fats Domino’s 1961 rock ‘n’ roll hit. On ‘Goldfinger’, Frisell delights in carefully peeling back its layers to reveal the James Bond theme song’s many moving parts.

Other pieces are sensitive paeans to old sparring partners. Hearing that 89-year-old Lee Konitz is in the audience, Frisell stretches out on the altoist’s 1949 bop number ‘Subconscious Lee’. It’s exquisite.

Garry Booth

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