Bill Frisell: Beautiful Dreamers

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Bill Frisell: <em>Beautiful Dreamers</em>

Mostly beautiful

Over the last three decades, Bill Frisell’s instrumental compositions have blended smooth jazz with twangy country, occasionally getting downright bluesy.

His latest effort—which enlists the artistry of composer/multi-instrumentalist Eyvind Kang and drummer Rudy Royston—maintains his signature genre-meshing qualities in its reimagining of six classic ballads dating as far back as the Civil War (which sit nicely among Frisell’s 10 original compositions). Title track “Beautiful Dreamer,” an instrumental adaptation of Stephen Foster’s folk song, is a jazz-injected lullaby carried by Frisell’s careful electric guitar plucking. Although the stagnant electric guitar thrumming on “All We Can Do” and “Who Was That Girl?” threatens to slow the album to a halt, the mutability of Eyvind Kang’s viola on “Winslow Homer” and “Better Than a Machine” make up for lost excitement.