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  • BILL FRISELL HARMONY Oct/Nov 2022
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BILL FRISELL HARMONY

Acclaimed guitarist Bill Frisell released his Blue Note Records debut with the project HARMONY in 2019. Produced by his longtime collaborator Lee Townsend—and recorded by Tucker Martine at Flora Recording in Portland, Oregon—HARMONY features Frisell with a wholly distinctive quartet comprising two longtime collaborators—Petra Haden, voice; Hank Roberts, cello and voice—plus a relative newcomer, Luke Bergman, on acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, bass and voice.

The result of a commission from the FreshGrass Music Festival, an organization dedicated to the vitality of contemporary American roots music, HARMONY features new compositions, imaginatively reworked music from Frisell’s catalog and a typically sharp selection of jazz and Americana staples. Throughout, Haden’s dreamlike, often wordless lead vocals and the trio’s quietly powerful harmonies grant Frisell’s music dimensions it’s never known before. Remarkably, the thoughtful beauty and evocative patience that mark his guitar playing are both smartly accented and greatly magnified.

Longtime fans will recognize Frisell’s ongoing calling to both honor the totality of American music and represent his personal history with integrity. “If I think back throughout my whole life, all the music that I’ve loved,” he says, “why can’t it all be there at the same time? You can play a Bob Dylan song and you can play a standard song or a Charlie Parker song, and they can fit together. Why not? There’s no reason why you can’t have ‘Lush Life’ and ‘Red River Valley’ on the same album. They’re both beautiful songs.”

Frisell had long wanted to match these particular talents and test the alchemy of this unique, drum-less configuration. Hovering between a chamber ensemble, small-group jazz and a classic American harmony group, the dynamic and sense of interplay here are organic and unmistakable—not least between Frisell and Haden, who are essentially family. Petra’s father, the late bass champion Charlie Haden, was a mentor of sorts to Frisell, who played with Charlie in revered bands featuring the drummers Paul Motian and Ginger Baker. Frisell and Petra have developed their own sublime accord, which they’ve showcased on projects like Frisell’s gracefully nostalgic 2016 album When You Wish Upon a Star.

Frisell, who does not sing, has worked with plenty of brilliant vocalists in the past, he points out. But HARMONY is something altogether different, he explains. “We premiered in San Francisco in 2016,” Frisell says, “and, kind of at the last minute, I thought, ‘Wow, everybody sings.’ They sang a few things, and I was like, ‘OK, now I think we’re really on to something.’”

“The eminent guitarist Bill Frisell improvises in smoky ringlets of melody, drawing the influence of classic jazz guitar into a palette based on early American folk music. He has been a noted bandleader since the 1980s, but has never released an album for Blue Note Records, jazz’s most illustrious label. That will change with ‘HARMONY,’ which finds Frisell playing eight smoldering original compositions and a few covers alongside the vocalist Petra Haden, the cellist Hank Roberts and the guitarist and bassist Luke Bergman.”—New York Times

“Standards like Billy Strayhorn's ‘Lush Life’ sit peaceably alongside originals and traditional American fare on Bill Frisell’s ‘HARMONY.’ For this sweet gem of an album, his Blue Note debut as a leader, the guitarist brought in two longtime collaborators, vocalist Petra Haden and cellist Hank Roberts. Luke Bergman rounds out the drumless quartet, on acoustic and baritone guitars, bass and vocals. From the wordless harmonizing on the title track to the pop-jazz vibe of the closer, it’s a portrait of tranquillity.”—WBGO

“Getting your hands on a new Bill Frisell CD is a bit like unboxing a gift from a good friend with great taste. So what do we have here? Something intriguing, as it turns out, yet again... HARMONY is bound to delight many fans who’ve followed the guitarist’s singular and increasingly curious path over the last few decades... an auspicious kickoff to Frisell’s Blue Note years.”—JazzTimes

“a cozy configuration that fosters an up-close and intimate vibe centered around the human voice and rooted in jazz, traditional Americana and chamber music.”—DownBeat

“The emphasis is on the dynamics of the entire ensemble… Frisell is omnipresent throughout with the warm, recognizable tone of his electric guitar shimmering through each track… Every song unhurriedly ambles along, yet consistently reaches its destination—straight to the heart of the listener.”—DownBeat

“One of the most adaptable and prolific musicians alive... Harmony found its tone and direction when Frisell realized that Roberts and Bergman also sang, and that the three band members’ voices blended in a particularly charming, precise and radiant way... the truly shiny moments come when the three voices, entangled with Frisell’s ever-perceptive guitar, become one rapturous, embraceable sound.”—RELIX

“suffused with his genre-free love of music, and his guitar-playing remains a foundation element. It's a beautiful group sound, with the name Harmony very well deserved.”—AllAboutJazz

“An estimable Blue Note Records debut from a master musician that expands into new territory, HARMONY is a delight.”—AllAboutJazz

“HARMONY soars above worldly concerns... a soaring, ethereal branch of American music’s evolutionary tree with touchstones in roots music, high art, and experimentalism”—No Depression

Line Up

Bill Frisell, electric guitar
Petra Haden, voice
Hank Roberts, cello, voice
Luke Bergman, baritone guitar, voice

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Tourdates

26.10.2022  travel to Europe
27.10.2022  arr. Europe
28.10.2022  ESPOO/Finland - Sellosali (Sello Hall)Tickets
29.10.2022  AMSTERDAM/Netherlands - BimhuisTickets
30.10.2022  AMSTERDAM/Netherlands - Bimhuis
31.10.2022  WARSAW/Poland - Pardon To Tu
01.11.2022  WARSAW/Poland - Pardon To Tu
02.11.2022  SEVILLA/Spain - Teatro Central de SevillaTickets
04.11.2022  VITROLLES/France - Salle Guy Obino de VitrollesTickets
06.11.2022  LUDWIGSHAFEN/Germany - BASF-Feierabendhaus - FestsaalTickets
08.11.2022  LONDON/England - The Jazz CafeTickets
09.11.2022  BERLIN/Germany - Institut Francais de BerlinTickets
10.11.2022  KLEJTRUP/Denmark - Klejtrup MusikefterskoleTickets
11.11.2022  not available
12.11.2022  GRONINGEN/Netherlands - Rockit Festival - De OosterpoortTickets
13.11.2022  return home

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