On Four, Bill Frisell assembles a lineup that is unique on a few levels. There is no bass player, and the combination of guitar, piano, sax/clarinet, and drums gives the music a texture rarely heard on Frisell’s releases from this period (many of which feature bassist Thomas Morgan). The combination of pianist Gerald Clayton, reedist Gregory Tardy, and drummer Johnathan Blake—each a leader in his own right—is also not one you’d immediately expect. On a Frisell release, you’re more likely to hear strings or pedal steel than piano, but Clayton fashions a role for himself that broadens the harmonic landscape (he’s fully unaccompanied on “Always”). Tardy, equally a master of a clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor saxophone, keeps all three in rotation and heightens the distinct character of each piece. Blake, a deeply swinging drummer in the Philadelphia jazz mold, brings a subtlety to Four that highlights the drum set as an instrument complete in itself. The playlist, all Frisell originals, finds the players in varied combinations as they acknowledge recent losses (famed producer Hal Willner, Seattle artist Claude Utley, Frisell’s childhood friend Alan Woodard) and venture moods from the ghostly and haunting “Wise Woman” to the jazzy angularity of “Holiday” (a very oblique take on “I Got Rhythm”). Older Frisell tunes, such as “Monroe” and “Lookout for Hope,” also get fresh reworkings.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada