Valentine

Bill Frisell

Valentine

After two gorgeous duo albums for ECM, Small Town and Epistrophy, Bill Frisell and sought-after younger bassist Thomas Morgan expand to trio with drummer Rudy Royston on this wide-ranging set for Blue Note. Frisell has an uncanny ability to pull from varied American and world influences and always be unmistakably himself, whether he’s referencing Malian music with Boubacar Traoré’s grooving “Baba Drame” or masterfully tracing the jazz ballad harmony of Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” in a way that recalls his important work with the late Paul Motian. The title track, a dissonant blues, seems reminiscent of the late Jim Hall, Frisell’s forebear, friend, and sometime duo partner. The country classic “Wagon Wheels,” which Sonny Rollins famously gave a trio treatment in 1957 on Way Out West, becomes Frisell’s vehicle as well, with a lyrical, easygoing lope. Among such offbeat originals as “Aunt Mary” are two older ones in new clothes: “Keep Your Eyes Open” from the pivotal Nashville (1997), and “Where Do We Go?” from Blues Dream (2001). The latter was once a rich septet arrangement with three horns and pedal steel; here it’s sparse and intimate acoustic guitar poetry.

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