If one concept can be said to define the expansive, unprecedented career of Bill Frisell—a “fearless and adaptable guitarist,” per The New Yorker—it might be that of connection. Frisell, now 68, can’t help but draw lines between the landmarks of his life in music.
HARMONY, Frisell’s first recording under his name for Blue Note Records, embodies this idea of revisiting kin-ships more than perhaps any other project in his abundant discography. “It’s wild, at this point in my life, thinking back all the way to high school and all these strands of things coming together,” he reflects. “And here I am now—I have an album coming out on Blue Note. Is it possible that I could be part of all this?”
Produced by Frisell’s longtime collaborator Lee Townsend—and recorded by Tucker Martine at his studio Flora Recording in Portland, Oregon—HARMONY features the guitarist 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. 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.