Four is guitarist Bill Frisell’s third leader set for Blue Note. His top-shelf quartet seamlessly balances improvisational acumen with a profound sense of melodic invention. Frisell’s sidemen include saxophonist/clarinetist Greg Tardy, pianist Gerald Clayton, and drummer Johnathan Blake. There is no bassist.
Nine of these 13 tracks comprise fresh material, while the remainder is revisioned tunes from his catalog. Much of the new music was composed in notebook fragments during the pandemic; the album is his meditation on loss, renewal, and friendship. It is dedicated to the memory of Ron Miles, one of Frisell’s closest friends and the musician whose example he credits with opening his thinking to this intimate method of creation.
Frisell left his pieces unfinished and presents them that way with precious little additional information to encourage spontaneous response and interplay from the group.