Bill Frisell Sign of Life (Savoy Jazz)
Bill Frisell rarely follows conventional musical pathways. The guitarist has released albums of Americana, world, blues and classical music, all with a jazz edge. Improvisation is at the heart of what Frisell does, magically forming loose ideas into compelling and frequently exigent listening experiences.
Sign of Life, recorded with the virtuosic 858 Quartet—violinist Jenny Scheinman, violist Eyvind Kang and cellist Hank Roberts—challenges the perceptions of the classical quartet.
Frisell’s emotive depth and textural layering push the music toward an artier realm bordering on contemporary classical, but with a spatial, earthbound feel. Elements of Aaron Copeland mix with Marvin Gaye, Eastern rhythms collide with ’70s-soundtrack-esque passages and even old-timey traditions make a brief appearance.
It’s a diverse album that reveals new delights with successive spins.—Glenn BurnSilver
(This review appears in the June 2011 issue of Relix magazine.)