Bill Frisell, "Disfarmer"

81 Billboard Rating

The music of omnivorous guitarist Bill Frisell reflects an eclectic range of influences, including Thelonious Monk, John Hiatt and Boubacar Traore. On "Disfarmer," he draws inspiration from the Depression-era portraits of little-known Arkansas photographer Michael Disfarmer. The result is a provocative soundscape that features a mixture of acoustic and electric guitars. The 26-track collection is composed of a number of short sketches, including "The Wizard"-with its dissonant harmonies and an avant outro-and the fully developed Americana gem "I Am Not a Farmer." Full of sampled loops and music box snippets, Frisell's album offers country-tinged folk music that's colored by his longtime quartet, which includes Jenny Scheinman (violin), Greg Leisz (steel guitar) and Viktor Krauss (bass). Frisell also delivers a honky-tonk hoedown version of Elvis Presley's "That's All Right, Mama," while taking a sweetened approach on Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues." The guitarist may work within the jazz context but he's not an easy peg. Creatively restless, Frisell is best suited for exploring vast territory and responding with imaginative integrity, which is evidenced on "Disfarmer."

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