Search - Fred Hersch, Bill Frisell :: Songs We Know

Songs We Know
Fred Hersch, Bill Frisell
Songs We Know
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

Nonesuch Records takes a page out of the Verve playbook, feasting two of its most respected players (perhaps "popular" isn't the right word) in guitarist Frisell and pianist Hersch, on a series of chestnuts. Frisell has, a...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Fred Hersch, Bill Frisell
Title: Songs We Know
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Nonesuch
Original Release Date: 9/15/1998
Release Date: 9/15/1998
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Jazz Fusion, Modern Postbebop, Bebop, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 075597946826

Nonesuch Records takes a page out of the Verve playbook, feasting two of its most respected players (perhaps "popular" isn't the right word) in guitarist Frisell and pianist Hersch, on a series of chestnuts. Frisell has, after all, made his name by casting a post-ironic net over the past (again, think of Verve elevating the similar-looking Charlie Haden to represent NPR's All Things Americana). But on last year's Thelonious, Hersch, a straight-ahead player who has nonetheless taken on inventive settings in the past, boasted an intelligently post-modern touch as well. Here, Frisell's trademark stereo effects are reined in a bit (an exception will be the opening take on Rodgers and Hammerstein's "It Might As Well Be Spring"), while the duo setting emphasizes the right hands of both players. The often fugue-like interplay can evoke Lennie Tristano's work with Billy Bauer, although I would not put this CD quite on that level. The takes are relatively faithful, if not reverent, and I detect Frisell's arch, unsmirking touch in choices such as "Someday My Prince Will Come" and Jobim's "Wave." Like I said, these are chestnuts. But only lightly roasted. --D. Strauss

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CD Reviews

Thoughtful "chamber-music" jazz focussing on standards.
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Fred Hersch reflects the quieter side of the Bill Evans approach to jazz piano, i.e.: classical refinement that doesn't attempt to cut through the chatter and clatter of the cocktail jazz milieu. Granted this subtlety and Hersch's avoidance of hard, obvious swinging, he's been building a unique voice of his own through a revealing series of precisely-themed CDs on Nonesuch. This CD, featuring Hersch in duos with post-modern guitarist Bill Frissel on a series of standards, stands as a culmination of sorts in which Hersch recasts the utterly familiar (example: "I Got Rhythm")in an utterly new light. The results are exquisite, a rare boon for connoisseurs of improvisation. Frissel, who, against all odds, has made his droning, post-Nashville style of playing widely applicable, adds his own element of revelation by playing much of the CD acoustically. The result is a clarification of his harmonic thinking that elides perfectly with Hersch's delicate, yet somehow lush voicings. If you love following songs like "My One And Only Love" or "All The Things You Are" through etude-like transformations, this CD will charm you. My favorite is Hersch-Frisell's reading of "It Might As Well Be Spring." Played completely-- and only--through once, it could be the greatest non-vocal jazz take ever of this song, highlighting an ambiguous, unsentimental depth-of-yearning rarely, if ever, captured again by Richard Rogers in his immensely popular partnership with Oscar Hammerstein. Indeed, if you know the lyrics to this song, as well as the superb interpretation given to them 15 or so years ago by Mel Torme in a duo with George Schearing, you'll surely enjoy the way Hirsch and Frissel evoke that same atmosphere of rueful, timeless yearning which lies at the heart of this ostensibly seasonal ballad. Consistent with Hersch's role as an educator at the New England Conservatory of Music, this is a CD of huge intelligence and erudition. Also consistent with Hersch's immense growth in stature as a jazz artist, it burns with the jazz passion for reconceptualizing the familiar in a manner which beguiles while it illuminates."
Disctinctive musical conversations.
ALBERT J. COPLAND | 09/26/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you are after 'groundbreaking' or 'revolutionary' or 'innovative' or 'new' you won't find it here-at least not in the sense one is used to hearing these overworked, misapplied adjectives. No, this cd runs more toward subtle, discrete and elegant. By their nature duo recordings tend to be conversational in nature, two performers engaged in give and take. 'Songs We Know' emphasizes this quality of sharing and finding common ground. Both musicians have distinctive individual sounds and a great part of the beauty of this recording is the spontaneous way in which their voices merge and join together-two voices of one mind seemingly. Introspective, thoughtful, yet extremely generous music making. Highly recommended."
Elegant, pleasing
ALBERT J. COPLAND | 10/16/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was worried when I found out that Bill was recording with a pianist. In many jazz recordings featuring piano, they are recorded too loud and the guitar gets buried among the keys. I was quite relieved when I popped in the disc and heard Hersch and Frisell meld so beautifully. At some points, you can't tell where the guitar begins and the piano stops. Frisell's playing is a little reserved, but it's vintage Bill. A must have."