Big Sur

Bill Frisell

More than two decades ago, one of my daughter’s boyfriends gave me a Bill Frisell CD in an attempt to ingratiate himself with his girlfriend’s old man. I didn’t like the kid much, and that may have influenced my reaction to the album, which I also didn’t like much. That unfair, negative reaction may have kept me from appreciating a lot of good music—and it surely made me less enthusiastic about reviewing this current Bill Frisell release—but damn me if I didn’t overcome my irrational prejudices to find myself really liking this album. All the music on it was first performed last year at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and I couldn’t help but think how nice it would have been to hear it there on a warm, late summer’s evening where so much good music has graced my ears. But hearing it at home on a gorgeous early-summer morning was the next best thing; watching the hummingbirds at the feeder provided a visual accent to the loveliness of these compositions (written by guitarist Frisell when he was staying at Glen Deven Ranch in Big Sur). The beauty of that place surely helped inspire the beauty found in these songs, and in the performance of them by the Big Sur Quintet. All 19 of these compositions make reference to the place where they were written, and anyone planning to drive down the coastal highway this summer would be crazy not to have this album playing in the car as they took that ride.

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