Fred Hersch + Bill Frisell
Songs We Know
1 It Might As Well Be Spring
Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein
2 There Is No Greater Love
Marty Symes/Isham Jones
3 Someday My Prince Will Come
Frank Churchill/Larry Morey
4 Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein
5 Blue Monk 5:31
6 My One and Only Love 5:55
Guy B. Wood/Robert Mellin
7 My Litle Suede Shoes 5:32
Charlie Parker Jr.
8 Yesterdays 6:22
Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach
9 I Got Rhythm 5:11
George and Ira Gershwin
10 Wave 6:35
Antonio Carlos Jobim
11 What Is This Thing Called Love? 4:26
I was once had a conversation with a friend where we
both tried to think of an instance of Frisell playing standards. The only
example I could think of was his playing with the Ginger Baker Trio, doing
songs like "Straight, No Chaser" and Ornette Coleman's "Ramblin' ", and
his work in the News For Lulu trio, but they covered fifties hard bop,
not time tested standards. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found
out about Songs We Know. Frisell and pianist Fred Hersch play the
most standard of the standards in a completely unstructured environment.
I couldn't have wished for anything better.
This album finds Frisell completely stripped of
effects and bells and whistles, his electric guitar sound being more similar
to Jim Hall's quiet near acoustic tone. No country twang or rock edge here.
He gambols around these melodies with Hersch, obviously having a lot of
fun with them. There was no real plan involving the songs, they just called
them and played. With so much space to fill, this album could have fallen
apart, but the album succeeds because it avoids the head-solos-head format.
Hersch and Frisell instead just create sounds based around the chords and
melody of the songs, keeping the melody running through the entire piece
(a method sorely lacking in a lot of todays jazz).
The songs work best when played impressionistically,
drifting along with a light touch. "It Might As Well Be Spring", "My One
and Only Love" and the haunting version of Jobim's "Wave" all stand out.
The clompy versions of "There Is No Greater Love", "Softly as in a Morning
Sunrise" and "Blue Monk" all sound a little bit strained.
This album does have a very quiet, reserved beauty
all its own, and is probably best for Frisell completists. It is an invaluable
chance to hear Frisell in a radical new environment for him, sticking pretty
close to a jazz vein and not really bringing a lot else into it.
Fred Hersch, piano
Bill Frisell, guitar
Recorded at Mobius Music, San Francisco 1998
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