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Bill Frisell's Country-Swing Guitar Fusion

by Seth Colter Walls

Bill Frisell's Country-Swing Guitar Fusion


Bill Frisell has a sort of jazz-musician super-power: He can appeal to a broad cross-section of country fans, rock fans and new-classical nuts as well as mainstream jazz audiences. The guitarist has clocked studio time with a dizzying mix of musicians: Everyone from Elvis Costello to John Zorn to Paul Motian has played next to Frisell's delay pedals. And when Frisell is left to his own band-leading devices, he's as likely to cover Madonna ("Live to Tell") as Hank Williams ("I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love with You").

Big Sur, Frisell's latest twanging excursion with his "country" jazz group, provides us with an opportunity to flip back through a most rewarding career. That means the hard-grooving improv of "Blues for Los Angeles" as well as the early downtown N.Y.C. punk attitude dealt out by "Hard Plains Drifter." Costello guests on "I Still Have That Other Girl." Meantime, Big Sur has a tune on it called "We All Love Neil Young." Just in case you think Frisell's putting on populist airs, see his Nashville album (which features a cover of "One of These Days"). Check out all these tunes and more here.