Someone needs to do a ph.D or fill several books on Bill Frisell to even scratch the surface given the size of his discography and range of collaborators. He has a prodigious output, unique style and his sound reaches far beyond jazz into Americana and popular music often spinning several plates at once.
That Americana aspect is significant here on the Lee Townsend-produced Harmony recorded in a Portand, Oregon, studio. Guitarist Frisell is joined by Charle Haden's daughter vocalist Petra Haden, the cellist/vocalist Hank Roberts and guitarist/vocalist Luke Bergman. The material stems from a FreshGrass Music Festival commission.
Verdict? Well if you are not into Americana skip this one because its influence is all-pervasive and cloaks the sound entirely. Having said that and writing pretty much as a neutral neither loving the style nor hating it, Petra Haden's voice is compelling and the songs have a faraway character that contributes to a lot of appeal. Pick of the whole thing? That's easy, the poetic 'Deep Dead Blue' written by Bill Frisell with lyics by Elvis Costello harking back to a 1990s collaboration. There is certainly lots to study on this considered approach. Patience is rewarded by doing just that. SG
Photo: Monica Frisell