For all the self-generated hype that Tzadik releases carry on their spine inserts, the one that accompanies Bill Frisell's Silent Comedy is pretty close to accurate. This really is the guitarist as you've never heard him before – at least on record. He's improvising live in a studio with no edits or overdubs. Some of the 11 pieces included here carry traces of his signature bell-like tone, but this is a very free recording.
Bill Fay returns with the third album in the celebrated second phase of his recording career. A prime Fay song is a deceptively simple thing which carries more emotional weight than its concision and brevity might imply. There are ten of these musical haikus on Countless Branches, as pointed and as poignant as anything he’s ever recorded. For decades now - it’s almost 50 years since he cut his classic albums “Bill Fay” and “Time of the Last Persecution” - songs like these have been Fay’s ambassadors helping rave reviews and endorsements from the likes of Jim O’Rourke (Tortoise) and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) which led to a huge revival of interest in his music. He had continued to make music almost every day in the intervening decades. For Countless Branches he’s completed new toplines over some of his cache of backing tracks, most of them 20 to 40 years old.
Born of a Monterey Jazz Festival commission in 2012, Bill Frisell’s “Big Sur” features an hour of original music, 19 compositions that explicitly reference the coastal-mountain environment known as Big Sur; a region that occupies 90 miles of spectacular central California coastline. Titles such as “A Good Spot”, “Going to California”, “A Beautiful View”, “Big Sur”, and “On the Lookout” evoke the remote and pastoral setting with musical blends of chamber jazz, country, classical, folk, and rock. Joined by violinist Jenny Scheinman, violist Eyvind Kang, cellist Hank Roberts, and drummer Rudy Royston, the group premiered the music at the festival in September 2012. Six months later, the quintet recorded “Big Sur” at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, with longtime Frisell collaborators Lee Townsend and Adam Muñoz producing and engineering, respectively.