Exposé Online banner

Bill Frisell — Unspeakable
(Nonesuch 7928-2, 2004, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2006-05-01

Unspeakable Cover artBill Frisell’s first Grammy winning CD is a major achievement on many fronts. Frisell doesn’t blow you away like many other experienced guitarists — he is the cardinal of understatement, preferring to strum away along side or under a main theme be carried by violin or cautious percussion. As a composer his whimsy is seemingly stamped by a penchant to fuse John Barry stylish soundtracks with modern rhythmic approaches. The guitarist’s flair for the crafted embellishment is evident right from the start on “1968”. Acclaimed violinist Jenny Scheinman is a member of the string trio The 858 Strings alongside Eyvind Kang that supports Frisell’s mindset. “White Fang” pursues a funkier blues-based side of the guitarist work with Hal Wilner adding an infectious dance groove that doesn’t give way to wankery. The rhythm section of Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen provide consistent groove interplay. Another focal track is “Gregory C” that relies heavily on sampled cello to build a romantic backdrop for Frisell’s harmonics crossword puzzle and backwards tape loops. “D. Sharpe” is the most unfitting song in the set with its sour melody line and unsettling string intervals. “Old Sugar Bear” is the real oddity on the disk where an ambient pastiche is played on the foreground on top of rhythmic and melodic phrases that sneak and out of the mutable song structure before a strong 4/4 R&B vibe begins. Overall it’s the culmination of thirty years work that composer has come to terms with.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2004 releases

Related artist(s): Bill Frisell

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Aelian - The Watcher – This is one of Musea's new releases, a label which for many years I considered infallible, but in the last few years they have occasionally proven me wrong with releases like Fancy Fluid's...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues