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Gone Just Like A Train....Bill Frisell

A Review by Carol Nelson

Bill Frisell, as a rule, follows no rules. His music defies categorization. On his new album, “Gone, Just Like a Train”, Bill plays both electric and acoustic guitars, and expertly, of course. And, he has assembled what has been referred to as a ‘power trio’ by bringing in Viktor Krauss on bass and Jim Keltner on drums and percussion. You’ll find the cd in the jazz section of your music store, probably. Perhaps that is the right place for it.. this recording does have much more of a jazz feel than the “Nashville” album Bill came out with last year.

Frisell has acknowledged being influenced by legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, as well as playing the “kind of harmonic things Jim Hall would play but with a sound that comes from Jimi Hendrix”. “Godson Song” and “Girl Asks Boy(part1)” have a definite Wes Montgomery jazz flavor to them. But elements of blues, folk, rock, and bluegrass are all thrown in at some point, too. And maybe even a little country. Although this album, unlike the “Nashville” album, is solely instrumental, it’s not hard at all to imagine adding lyrics about women or whiskey or hard times to a couple of the songs. The song “Raccoon Cat” slides easily into bluegrass territory.

All 16 tracks (there’re only 15 listed, but there’s a hidden one at the end) are original Bill Frisell compositions. Bill shows such expertise and inventiveness at composing that he has been referred to as an “architect of music”. “gone, just like a train” serves to further establish him in this capacity.

And then… there’s the album cover! Cartoonist Jim Woodring created the playfully colorful cover art while listening to Bill play and work on the music for this album. The bright colors and almost familiar creatures evoke, in Frisell’s words, “a world of things that are hidden, buried-things you can only see in dreams, the unconscious, whatever.” All told, “gone, just like a train” is a brilliant and compelling album created with a love for music. Call it jazz if you want, but Bill Frisell transcends the musical categories and boundaries. It’s music and it’s good.

Copyright © 1997 by Carol Nelson, All rights reserved

Send private comments to author: cnelso@webtv.net

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