Picks and Pans Review: Rambler
For the last few years guitarists have been playing with an exotic new toy called the guitar synthesizer. It works like a regular synthesizer except that the programmed sounds are triggered by the strings of a guitar instead of a keyboard. In his work as a side-man with such jazz progressives as Jan Garbarek, Julius Hemphill, Lyle Mays and Paul Motian, Frisell, 34, has selected judiciously from the myriad possibilities offered by the new device to establish a highly personal voice. Frisell's cushiony cascades and organlike swells, his buzzing sustains and squeezed exclamations, don't ornament a piece so much as anchor it. His compositions demonstrate just how much range he has. Tone is an Ornette Colemanesque reverie—predictable territory, but the collective improvisation between bass, drums, tuba, trumpet and guitar is exemplary. Music I Heard is almost exactly that: a bit of jaunty marching music, a retrieval of one of Frisell's earliest musical memories. It is framed at the beginning and end by cloudy guitar chords, which clear like a mist to usher in Motian's drums and Bob Stewart's tuba. The title cut has the feel of a cowboy ballad, with Frisell appropriating some of the twang of a country pedal steel guitar. When We Go is a coy dance with a lush Spanish feel. Throughout the album there's a synthesis of new and old, of sophistication and simplicity. That's what much of the best '80s jazz is all about. (ECM)
On Newsstands Now
- Amy Robach: 'I'm Lucky to Be Alive'
- Paul Walker: Inside His Tragic Death
- Julia Roberts: Choosing Family Over Hollywood
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine