Personnel: Bill Frisell (guitar); Billy Drewes (alto saxophone); Curtis Fowlkes (trombone); Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet); Kermit Driscoll (acoustic & electric basses); Joey Baron (drums).
Recorded at Mastersound, Astoria, New York in October 1992.
Personnel: Bill Frisell (guitar); Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet); Billy Drewes (alto saxophone); Curtis Fowlkes (trombone); Kermit Driscoll (acoustic bass, electric bass); Joey Baron (drums).
Recording information: Mastersound Astoria, NY (10/1992).
Editor: Mark Slagle.
Photographers: Walker Evans; Deborah Feingold.
Over the course of the last ten years, guitarist Bill Frisell has cemented his reputation for fearless originality with bands like Bass Desires and The Power Tools, and free-thinking leaders such as producer Hal Wilner, drummer Paul Motian, and saxophonist/composers Julius Hemphill and John Zorn. Frisell is a jazz slowhand, and his solo style places a premium on melody and the creative use of chord voicings and space to generate tension and converse with the rhythm section. Others may have more garish chops, but Frisell is the master storyteller.
And based on his remarkably consistent output for ECM and Elektra/Nonesuch, Bill Frisell has emerged as one of the premier composer/arrangers in a small band context. From his quartet with cellist Hank Roberts and longtime collaborators Kermit Driscoll on bass and Joey Baron on drums, to the expanded ensemble (with alto saxophonist Billy Drewes, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and clarinetist Don Byron) featured on THIS LAND, Frisell has become a great chronicler of the American panorama.
Frisell employs the reeds and brass on THIS LAND to suggest an America of almost unlimited variety and vitality. On his two part suite "Jimmy Carter" and on the title tune, Frisell creates a classical ambience through a multiplicity of parts which at times suggest Charles Ives and Aaron Copeland. Frisell's singular feel for the blues surfaces on the southwestern flavored "Is It Sweet?" and an affectionate little dance called "Monica Jane" (his daughter). Even more telling are his extended blues variations on the spectral "Julius Hemphill," where long chord tones by the horns provide an eerie, evolving backdrop for a series of epic variations by trombone, clarinet and electric guitar over an ominously slow tempo (reminiscent of Miles Davis' "Yesternow" from JACK JOHNSON). THIS LAND is also notable for the way Frisell comes out from behind his curtain of ambient effects to reveal a guitar timbre that is raw, singing and in your face. From the Wes Montgomery-like variations of "Strange Meeting" and the jacked up rhythm changes of "Resistor," to the chicken-fried calypso dances of "Amarillo Barbados," THIS LAND is Frisell's breakthrough recording.
Rolling Stone (9/22/94, p.94) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...provides a highly eclectic and picturesque listening experience, colored by a goofball kind of experimentalism..."
Option (8/94, p.101) - "...Frisell is moving away from being just an effects-happy guitarist and into becoming a real composer..."
Musician (6/94, p.84) - "...Frisell's music has always been evocative, and the charts he's written [on THIS LAND] attain a new level of polyglot eloquence...Like Ellington's TONE PARALLEL TO HARLEM, these pieces evoke an elaborate emotional weave..."