Something Else! sneak peek: Bill Frisell, "#9 Dream" (2011)

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From the first, it seems, guitarist Bill Frisell has sought to synthesize jazz with country and folk themes, and that impulse works to tremendous effect on this deft remake of John Lennon’s “#9 Dream,” from a forthcoming tribute recording called All We Are Saying.

Working in tandem with violinist Jenny Scheinman, Frisell creates something that is, at first, sweepingly melancholic before brilliantly transforming the song into a hypnotic dreamscape. What’s so impressive is how he does all of that without ever slipping off into soupy New Age formlessness.

[ONE TRACK MIND: Bill Frisell discusses his John Lennon tribute recording ‘All We Are Saying,’ as well as key moments from ‘Nashville’ and ‘Bill Frisell, Ron Carter and Paul Motian,’ among others.]

He starts by boiling down “#9 Dream,” originally a heavily orchestrated Top 10 hit off Lennon’s 1974 release Walls and Bridges, until he hits its emotional core. But even as Frisell softens the original theme, he begins to reshape it as something that’s not just quieter but at the same time more insistent.

There is, toward the song’s end, an abstract, almost free structure to Frisell’s playing, and that creates its own edges — even within a gently undulating mid-tempo rhythm. A darkly intriguing new reading.

Frisell appears on All We Are Saying, due Sept. 27 from Savoy Jazz, with Scheinman, bassist Tony Scherr, guitarist Greg Leisz and drummer Kenny Wollesen. The album of Lennon cuts, which grew out of life-long passion that Frisell has for the Beatles, was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and produced by Lee Townsend.

“John Lennon’s music has been with me, the band, everybody, the world … seems like forever,” Frisell said in an advance release. “The songs are part of us. In our blood. There was nothing we really needed to do to prepare for this. We’ve been preparing our whole lives. The songs are there. All we had to do was play them. Everyone involved with this has their own personal, deep, long, relationship to John Lennon’s music. It connects us all and brings us together. I feel blessed having the chance to play this music with these people.”

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SONG LIST FOR ALL WE ARE SAYING
Across the Universe
Revolution
Nowhere Man
Imagine
Please Please Me
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
Hold On
In My Life
Come Together
Julia
Woman
#9 Dream
Love
Beautiful Boy
Mother
Give Peace a Chance

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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