Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Two CD set. Bill Frisell's History, Mystery is a series of short pieces, alternately elegant and playful, written by Frisell for an octet comprised of the guitarist himself and a group of longtime collaborators-friends. One evocative snippet melds into another to form a virtually seamless work that unfolds over the course of this double-disc package. It has an engrossingly theatrical quality, as if it were the score to some unseen play. Some of these tracks were originally written for Mysterio Sympatico, a 70-minute multi-media dialogue between Frisell and fellow Seattle based artist/comic book author Jim Woodring that premiered in 2002 at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, featuring Frisell's compositions and Woodring's surreal projections, and that has subsequently been reprised around the country.
Down Beat (p.85) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "Frisell's melodies and moods have an easy appeal, from the Gypsy lull of 'Probability Cloud' to the Copland-esque moments of 'Boo And Scout.'"
JazzTimes (p.101) - "Bill Frisell's spare, mysterioso chordal voicings are as evocative and haunting as the intriguing black-and-white Farm Security Administration photos from the '40s that grace the front and back covers of HISTORY, MYSTERY."
Personnel: Bill Frisell (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, loops); Jenny Scheinman (violin); Eyvind Kang (viola); Hank Roberts (cello); Greg Tardy (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Ron Miles (cornet); Tony Scherr (bass instrument); Kenny Wollesen (drums).
Audio Mixers: Adam Muñoz; Shawn Pierce.
Liner Note Authors: Jim Woodring; Bill Frisell.
Recording information: Avast Studios, Seattle, WA (??/2002-05/2007); Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA (??/2002-05/2007); Hopkins Center, Hanover, NH (??/2002-05/2007); Lisner Auditorium, Washington DC (??/2002-05/2007).
Editor: Adam Muñoz.
Photographers: Jack Delano ; Monica Frisell; Walker Evans.
Guitar maestro Bill Frisell outdoes himself in ambition and diversity on the two-disc HISTORY, MYSTERY. Performing with a rich string-laden octet, the artist threads together 30 tracks, some of which derive from his collaboration with cartoonist Jim Woodring entitled "Mysterio Sympatico," and others drawn from the music Frisell composed for the NPR series STORIES FROM THE HEART OF THE LAND.
As always, Frisell's eclectic style freely blends genres together, mixing chamber music with free jazz, front porch Americana with high-minded atmospherics. Three covers-Thelonious Monk's "Jackie-ing," Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," and Boubacar Traore's "Baba Drame"-complement Frisell's originals. By turns moody and celebratory, playful and soulful, challenging and eminently listenable, HISTORY, MYSTERY is another fine entry in this singular artist's excellent discography.
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