I Still Have That Other Girl - Elvis Costello/Cassandra Wilson
Painted From Memory (Reprise)
The Long Division
Tears At The Birthday Party
I Still Have That Other Girl (Reprise)
God Give Me Strength
Guitarist Bill Frisell is first and foremost a song man. He has covered, sans irony, songs by Madonna and John Philip Sousa. He has even been witnessed performing "Beer Barrel Polka" when the mood strikes. His respect for ... more »classic songs and great singing has always been evident in his own playing and compositions. One singer Frisell has always respected is Elvis Costello, who was recording Burt Bacharach songs as far back as his Stiff Records days (check out the Live Stiffs anthology). Costello and Frisell make their collaboration on this recording a product of mutual admiration and shared love of Burt Bacharach, an unabashed melodic master. Recording simultaneously with Costello and Bacharach's Painted from Memory, Frisell arranged the same tunes working from bare piano-vocal demos. His small group orchestrations stretch but never break the songs, revealing a deep empathy for their mood and meaning. Bill and company (Brian Blade, Don Byron, Viktor Krauss, and others) are equally at home with the music's lyrical nature and quirky construction--both Bacharach trademarks. Costello and Cassandra Wilson add a few guest vocals, but it is the voice of Frisell's guitar and arranging that shines through here. --Michael Ross« less
Guitarist Bill Frisell is first and foremost a song man. He has covered, sans irony, songs by Madonna and John Philip Sousa. He has even been witnessed performing "Beer Barrel Polka" when the mood strikes. His respect for classic songs and great singing has always been evident in his own playing and compositions. One singer Frisell has always respected is Elvis Costello, who was recording Burt Bacharach songs as far back as his Stiff Records days (check out the Live Stiffs anthology). Costello and Frisell make their collaboration on this recording a product of mutual admiration and shared love of Burt Bacharach, an unabashed melodic master. Recording simultaneously with Costello and Bacharach's Painted from Memory, Frisell arranged the same tunes working from bare piano-vocal demos. His small group orchestrations stretch but never break the songs, revealing a deep empathy for their mood and meaning. Bill and company (Brian Blade, Don Byron, Viktor Krauss, and others) are equally at home with the music's lyrical nature and quirky construction--both Bacharach trademarks. Costello and Cassandra Wilson add a few guest vocals, but it is the voice of Frisell's guitar and arranging that shines through here. --Michael Ross
Jimmie D. (Starbuck) from FORT WORTH, TX Reviewed on 12/5/2006...
A combination of great talents.
Is it just me....or....
Jan P. Dennis | 11/04/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Is it just me...or is there something strange about the sound of this album, as though the musicians are all slightly out of tune or it's being played on a tape recorder that's going a little bit below the usual speed? This effect is particularly noticeable on "TOLEDO". I loved "Painted From Memory"- I think the songs are fantastic. These versions don't detract from them, but, with a couple of exceptions (e.g "Painted from Memory", sung by Cassandra Wilson) they don't add much to the original album either. I had hoped that this CD would be more jazzy and improvisational. After all Bacharach and Costello have provided some great chords for jazz musos to play around with. Instead the instrumentation is dull and the arrangements unadventurous. Particularly bad is "God Give Me Strength", which on all other recordings is amazing."
Frisell Shows Chops as an Arranger
David K. Bell | Portland, Oregon United States | 09/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sorry to post this review twice, but the other was posted from a different computer and is not grouped with my other reviews. Anyway, I've edited it a bit here.If you asked the average Bill Frisell fan what Frisell does, the answer would probably be about his guitar playing. Pressed further, the fan might mention his song-writing and compositional ability, the versatility of his repertoire, his ability to assemble just the right musicians for each CD, etc., etc. But I'll bet you'd get pretty far down the list before his abilities as an arranger would come up, even though his arrangments are always masterful. Maybe that's because most of his albums contain mostly his own songs and we think of the arrangements asjust part of the compositions themselves. "The Sweetest Punch," with the compositional focus on other songwriters, shows off Frisell's skills as a master arranger.Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach sent Frisell a tape of the songs that ended up on their collaborative "Painted From Memory" record. The tape contained only rough piano/vocal versions of the tunes, and Frisell arranged and recorded his interpretations at the same time Costello/Bacharach were developing and recorded theirs. Neither heard what the other was doing until they were both finished. The songs themselves are, as you would expect, wonderful. If your snobbish side thinks the music of Mr. Bacharach to often be a bit...light, you might remember that he is one of the great masters of melody in the popular song during the last four decades or so. If you think his fare might be too light for interesting interpretation by someone of Frisell's depth, remember that you might arch an eyebrow if you heard a jazz great was arranging songs from Disney movies, too, until you heard Coltrane's readings of "My Favorite Things" and "Chim Chim Cherree." Frisell takes the beautiful raw material of these songs and shows he is as skillful an arranger as he is a guitar player.I am reminded of Gil Evans's work with Miles Davis when I listen to this record. Just the right blend of harmonic and textural complexity and spareness reveal the sweet essence of these songs while developing the passion at their, core. The arrangements are for mostly winds, no strings except those on Frisell's guitar. Strings would have made these songs too sappy, but the wind arrangements allow sonorities and a percussiveness that bring out the dignity in them and an Elvis Costello edginess. Frisell's guitar, always restrained and tasteful, is downright self-effacing here, with only a few screamer, Frisell-guitar moments. No matter. Frisell's special genius is here anyway, realized largely through other instruments, but with his unmistakable signature touch just the same."
David K. Bell | 09/22/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Painted by Memory came out last year, I had trouble deciding how good the songs on it really were., Judgement was obscured by the contrasting production style that contained both lush and carefully planned orchastration to back up the free-floating vocals of Mr. Costello. Perhaps one album should have been done with the lush orchastration supporting a more appropriate voaclist such as Luthor Vandross or Elvis himself could have done simple piano and voice versions of these songs with his pianist, Steve Nieve...but anyway, here now is this beuatiful album, successful in displaying the melody in these songs without drowing them in oversentimental backing. The rearrangement of "Toldeo" with Elvis on vocals (singing WONDERFULLY, the best I've ever heard him, without a doubt a HUGE improvement on Painted by Memory) gets to the core of the song by having the ensemble trade off the vocal to convey the sitaution at hand. "I Still Have that Other Girl" is now a short, almost playful duet with Cassandra Wilson, who also sings "Painted by Memory" barroom style with a low husky voice backed only by Bill Frisell's solo guitar, making one wish the whole album were done with vocals...that is, until "The Sweetest Punch" and the rest of the album are taken in, not only proving how good these songs really are, but standing out as wonderful album on it's own right that should be hailed as one of the best of the year."
An entirely attractive vibe . . .
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 12/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
". . . that never fails to lift my spirits. Yes, I could do without the vocals, which seem to break the spell (although I'm even beginning to appreciate what they attempt), but the rest is so fine I end up not caring. A project like this is probably destined to please no one. Jazzers will disdain it as a commercial ploy. Popsters will regard it as too esoteric. They'd be wrong. You've got to take this kind of sui generis outing on it own terms--gorgeous, mesmeric, pop-jazz of the highest order. Nothing more, nothing less. With its line-up of brilliant, top drawer, scintillating players, it would be hard to imagine how this could not succeed. And it does, gloriously. Brian Blade (drums), Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet), Billy Drewes (alto sax--one of THE most underrated players on the scene), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone--a monster on the NY downtown scene), Ron Miles (trumpet--one of the most innovative voices on his instrument to come along in ages), and leader Frisell keeping everyone honest and focused--one could hardly imagine a suppler, more creative band.If things seem a little "arrangement heavy," lacking in stunning solo improv work, that's just the nature of this project. It's senseless to ask music to be something it wasn't intended to be, and this, simply, isn't a heavy improv session. Does that somehow diminish it? I don't think so. There's way sufficient group interaction and conversation to make up for any (perceived) lack of improv.I LOVE this disc. Really, it never fails to lift my spirits. OK, it's not William Parker or Josh Roseman, but what it is, is pretty special."
"all of the numbers sing"
Jan P. Dennis | 09/26/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bill Frisell, "The Sweetest Punch" ***1/2 [on a scale of * (poor) and **** (essential)]A mostly instrumental rendering of the songs from "Painted from Memory," the much ballyhooed collaboration between Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach."The Sweetest Punch" is one of the most rewarding jazz-pop experiments yet. With its coloration's, airy expanded melodies and tangy '60s-meet-'90s flavor, the "alternative" version easily surpasses the 1998 original-credit for which goes to arranger, guitarist and master eclectic Bill Frisell.Recorded shortly after "Painted," but before Frisell heard more than piano demos of the songs, "Punch" features the crooning intensive Costello on one tune, the cool dark-bodied Cassandra Wilson on another and the two vocalists on a third. But as played by a remarkable septet including clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Ron Miles, saxophonist Bill Drewes and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, all of the numbers sing. The music fills the room like a soundtrack for a movie romance you'd give anything to see. - Lloyd SachsChicago Sun-Times 09/26/99 Showcase section, page 13"