Notes and Editorial Reviews
Personnel: Bill Frisell (acoustic & electric guitars); Kermit Driscoll (acoustic & electric basses); Joey Baron (drums, percussion).
Recorded at Mobius Music, San Francisco, California.
Bill Frisell's sumptuous use of space, echo and other ambient devices gives his playing a profoundly cinematic bent. Seemingly alone among modern jazz (or jazz-influenced) guitarists, he is less concerned with the number of notes played than with painting a picture in sound. Indeed, he spent much of 1994 devoted to soundtracks, including cartoonist Gary "The Far Side" Larson's first animated special.
But in taking on the silent movies of Buster Keaton, Frisell has presented himself with a more profound challenge, to wit: to create a living,
breathing musical accompaniment--in real time--much as silent movie musicians did over 75 years ago. "Go West" is among the most bittersweet of Keaton's feature films, as his down-and-out character is uprooted and attempts to prove his mettle in cattle country. On "Down On Luck" (Frisell's opening loop, with it's I-Think-I-Can whistlestop cadence and mournful minor theme), the guitarist italicizes the hero's misadventures and noble spirit, even as his bluesy "Box Car" portends the relentless repetitions and stoic determination Keaton's character will need to carry him through to success.
The setting and ambience of GO WEST are a natural for Frisell's southwestern country blues sensibility. Tasty electric cowpoke lines dominate his score, ranging from a shuffling recurring motif introduced on "Go West," to the charming acoustic wagon wheels of "Saddle Up!" and "Ambush." Drummer Joey Baron's sensibilities are finely tuned to Keaton's surreal physical comedy, and his percussive pratfalls on "Busy Street Scene" parallel Buster's frustration on an abortive trip to a bustling New York. But ultimately it is Frisell's poker-faced inventions (culminating in "Tap Dancer And Confusion" as Keaton drives a herd of cattle through the middle of Pasadena) that drive the score forward, with an inner logic and concision worthy of Keaton himself. Read less
Works on This Recording
Go West by Bill Frisell
Kermit Driscoll (Double Bass),
Bill Frisell (Guitar),
Joey Baron (Drums)
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