This 1987 date teams the iconoclastic pianist with guitarist Bill Frisell, drummer Paul Motian, and British saxophonist John Surman. While it's easy to argue that, with Manfred Eicher's icy, crystalline production, this was a stock date for both the artists and the label, that argument would be flat wrong. Bley was looking for a new lyricism in his own playing and in his compositions. He was coming from a different place than the large harmonies offered by augmented and suspended chords and writing for piano trios. The other band members – two other extremely lyrical improvisers in Surman and Frisell.
"The music from Richter 858 was originally commissioned and recorded to accompany a book of paintings by Gerhard Richter, which was only available in limited quantities back in 2002. Tony Reif of Songlines decided to rescue the recordings from obscurity, and re-released them in early 2005. The band is Frisell on guitar and delay, Eyvind Kang on viola, Jenny Scheinman on violin, and Frisell's old bandmate Hank Roberts on cello. The pieces were directly inspired by a specific painting, and recorded live to two-track with no editing or overdubs."
On UNSPEAKABLE, Bill Frisell blends his distinctively lush, cerebral guitar style with the easy feel of his 1990s Americana-themed albums and a bit of the avant-garde sensibility of his '80s work, while never directly referencing either of these phases. In fact, the overall sound of UNSPEAKABLE is something new for Frisell–with a few notable exceptions, the record leans toward groove-heavy jams. The presence of horns, Adam Dorn's synthesizer, and the 858 Strings (a violin/viola/cello trio employed throughout the album for accent and effect) brings to mind, at times, the orchestrated, cinematic funk of '70s-era Isaac Hayes ("White Fang"), and, at others, '60s lounge music ("Del Close").
Kenny Wheeler is among the most lyrically commanding yet daring of modern trumpeters. There's a palpable ease of execution, and a poignant human quality, to his distinctive timbre, as on the title tune where his fluttering descents into the lower register, the cracked yet powerful vocal inflections, and the sudden emission of high harmonics suggest a whistling column of air slowly leaking from a balloon. And from the moody Spanish tinge of "Present Past" to the raga-ish Nordic gravity of "Unti," alto player Lee Konitz matches Wheeler's lyric ease with a singing sound and rhythmic buoyancy all his own.
There are a whole lotta musicians who would kill for a resumé like that of peripatetic drummer Ginger Baker: member of Cream and Blind Faith, bandmate of Fela Kuti, survivor of a drum showdown with Elvin Jones, olive farmer, polo player, born-again jazzer (his '95 trio recording, Going Back Home, certified his abilities).
When You Wish Upon A Star, the latest project from legendary Grammy-winning guitarist/composer Bill Frisell via OKeh Records. Comprised of music from iconic film and television scores, the LP is conceived not only as homage, but as a celebration of music-making with long time collaborators and their collective commitment to refined interpretation of material.