Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Go West: Music for Films of Buster Keaton
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks
Guitarist Bill Frisell's exploration of 20th-century Americana has led him to many places, but the films of silent-screen comedian Buster Keaton have been a special inspiration. What makes this "background" music so compel... more »
Listen to Samples
Amazon.com essential recording
Guitarist Bill Frisell's exploration of 20th-century Americana has led him to many places, but the films of silent-screen comedian Buster Keaton have been a special inspiration. What makes this "background" music so compelling is Frisell's ability to reimagine the particular landscape of Keaton's Wild West, its wide-open spaces and doomed humor. His compositional materials are almost minimalist. A few short melodies recur throughout, and the bass motif that appears with the brief "Box Car" appears again and again, in "Train," "Bullfight," "New Day," and "Cattle Drive," until it assumes the inexorable momentum of narrative. In his handling of these materials, Frisell is able to suggest a host of other musics (like the blues of "Card Game" and the dissonant near-flamenco of "Ambush") and a range of complex emotions. His then-regular partners make essential contributions: Kermit Driscoll provides rock-steady bass lines, while Joey Baron's creative use of percussion extends to using woodblocks for both humor and foreboding. Like Keaton, Frisell has the ability to take the expected, even the cliché, and make it resonate with subtle and sometimes disturbing dimensions. In the process, he has created a score that not only enriches the film but is able to stand on its own. For another Frisell take on Keaton, check out the shorter High Sign/One Week. --Stuart Broomer
Go West will keep on growing on you
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big Frisell fan, but just picked up this album recently. A wide range of music and reoccuring themes throughout make this one of my favorites. A very live, open-sounding production. Highly recommended if you're a fan."
Frisell does his thing
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 01/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of two albums Frisell has released featuring soundtracks to Buster Keaton films. (The other is _The High Sign/One Week_, soundtracks to two Keaton shorts; there are also a few tracks from his soundtrack to _Convict 13_ on the _Bill Frisell Quartet_ album.) It's an interesting choice of film since it's not one of Keaton's more celebrated full-length films. (Apparently it was difficult to film because the herd of cattle was hard to control.) The only time I've seen it was in Victoriaville with Frisell's trio performing the accompaniment live. I remember it as being quite a good film, actually, & rather moving--Keaton, though famously stonefaced, is always good at conveying his love for unlikely objects of affection, whether a boat, a train or (as in _Go West_) a cow. Maybe my experience of seeing the whole thing live has affected my judgment of this disc, but though I like it well enough I don't think it reaches the heights of the live gig.
Nonetheless, it's worth getting just because the Frisell/Driscoll/Baron trio made so few albums--aside from the Keaton projects, the only other one is the excellent though poorly-recorded _Live_ on Gramavision. I don't like this one as much as the tighter _High Sign/One Week_, but it does give you a nice taste of Frisell doing his thing at length over a series of incrementally elaborated grooves (about 3-4 simple themes that turn up in different guises again & again). One cute touch is that Driscoll for many of the tracks playing "walking bass"--with a bow! It's all a very handsome album, & a great way to hear Frisell soloing basically for 80 minutes on end, but without Keaton's visuals to sustain interest it does get a bit overextended, & the simple themes are a pretty thin basis for such a long piece of music. I always find that my attention invariably wanders before I reach the end of the disc--I tend to lose the thread circa track 20. Anyway, taken in smaller doses this is a lovely disc, recommended to anyone who admires Frisell's work: it's user-friendly without descending to the cloying niceness of some of his later work."