Two CD set. Bill Frisell’s History, Mystery is a series of short pieces, alternately elegant and playful, written by Frisell for an octet comprised of the guitarist himself and a group of longtime collaborators-friends. One evocative snippet melds into another to form a virtually seamless work that unfolds over the course of this double-disc package. It has an engrossingly theatrical quality, as if it were the score to some unseen play. Some of these tracks were originally written for Mysterio Sympatico, a 70-minute multi-media dialogue between Frisell and fellow Seattle based artist/comic book author Jim Woodring that premiered in 2002 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, featuring Frisell’s compositions and Woodring’s surreal projections, and that has subsequently been reprised around the country.
Over the 25 years he's been recording as a leader, guitarist Bill Frisell has worked in a multitude of settings, from gritty downtown to pastoral Americana, and with as many kinds of line-ups, from string trios through small groups to little-big bands. He's convinced in most contexts, and dug deep in many, always retaining his own voice, in which an abundant lyricism is partnered with earthy rhythmic vitality.
On the two-disc History, Mystery, Frisell shuffles the pack and comes up trumps again—this time leading a strings, horns and drums octet in a 90-minute suite which roves between impressionistic divertissements, most of them lasting just one or two minutes, and full-on, extended, do-what-they-say-on-the-can band work-outs, which variously take in bop, post-bop, Malian desert blues, Delta blues, 1960s soul, urban groove and low slung rock. Continue reading at ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM.