Over the course of 40-plus solo albums and countless collaborations, Frisell has established himself as one of the most original and adventurous jazz guitarists. On 10 new originals and three revisited from Good Dog, Happy Man, including the title tune, he teams for the first time with pianist Gerald Clayton and drummer Johnathan Blake, with Greg Tardy back on saxophone, clarinet, and bass clarinet. With no bass, it’s a fascinating – even daring – concept.
The 71-year-old’s embrace of Americana is evident, as melodies similar to the spiritual “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More” waft by. His compositions are sometimes angular, other times bluesy, but it’s his adherence to melody that shines.
His main guitar is a Bigsby-equipped J.W. Black with Jeff Callahan pickups – humbucker neck and mini-humbucker bridge (“reminiscent of Neil Young,” Bill says) – through a Carr Sportsman amp. Other than reverb, the only effect is his Line 6 Delay at the very end of the last cut, “Dog On A Roof.” It’s hardly a gimmick in his hands, and these 12 tracks put Frisell among the greatest with just wood and wire.
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.