Bill Frisell Live In New York, NY 05/01/04 Set 3
Release Date: March 19th, 2009
Bill Frisell - guitar
Brian Blade - drums
Sam Yahel - organ
01 Lost Highway
04 Strange Meeting
05 Richter 858-7 / 858-8
06 Follow Your Heart
total running time: 1:06:00
All songs written by Bill Frisell except: Lost Highway (Leon Payne), S.K.J. (Milt Jackson) and Follow Your Heart (John McLaughlin)
Recorded by Claudia Engelhart at the Jazz Standard in New York City
Frisell Archivist: Martin Lane
Produced by Adam Blomberg
A Songline / Tone Field Production
The fourth release in the series rights a wrong now nearly seven years old. When Frisell teamed up with Sam Yahel (best-known, at that time, for his work with saxophonist Joshua Redman's Elastic band) and ubiquitous drummer Brian Blade, expectations were high for the tour and the record that never came. That Frisell has since left Nonesuch after a 21-year run, because he wanted the freedom to release more than one album per year, makes some sense, given the number of unrecorded groups in his Live Download Series. While he'll never be able to keep up with all his projects in commercial form, making this series truly essential, it's a shame that this trio never received broader exposure because, based on this hour-plus set, it was a trio that clearly should have continued, though, of course, Blade's work in saxophonist Wayne Shorter's quartet, not to mention his own Fellowship Band and singer/songwriter Mama Rosa (Verve, 2009), means that he's a hard guy to pin down.
All the more reason to celebrate this download, as the trio digs into Leon Payne's "Lost Highway" with an assertive gospel verve uncharacteristic of the more laid-back Frisell. That's not to say his ethereal side has lost its place with the trio, as he leads Yahel and Blade into a version of one of his earliest pieces, "Throughout," from his very first album as a leader, In Line (ECM, 1983), that demonstrates a lighter side to the organist and the kind of empathic elasticity that's made Blade one of the most important drummers of his generation, in jazz and beyond.
The trio can't completely avoid the temptation to dive into some swinging soul jazz, and a version of vibraphonist Milt Jackson's blues, "S.K.J.," fits the bill, once again laying waste to claims that Frisell has lost his jazz chops, as his bop-centric but still characteristically quirky solo clearly proves. The trio also covers another early Frisell staple, Rambler's "Strange Meeting," but with a funky-cum-Latin vibe that doesn't quite know what it wants to be, but is all the better for it. Two tracks from Richter 858 demonstrate just how malleable Frisell's music is, as the string quartet turns dark yet, with Blade's specific help, propulsive. Another Frisell staple, guitarist John McLaughlin's 11/8 blues, "Follow Your Heart," closes the set with Yahel pitch- bending his organ lines in concert with the guitarist's similarly twisted notes; a somehow gentle but fluidly modal ending to one of the series' best releases to date.
For the complete Download Series review visit All About Jazz here.