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Bill Frisell and the 858 Quartet: Richter 858

While Richter 858: The Music of Bill Frisell (Songlines) is the brainchild of producer David Breskin, it’s essentially a Bill Frisell album. At Breskin’s request, Frisell viewed the eight abstract paintings in Gerhard Richter’s “858” series (1999) and composed music inspired by each one. At one point in the film ‘Round Midnight, Dexter Gordon’s character looks at a Monet and says it “sounds like Ravel.” After hearing this album, one might say that Richter sounds like Frisell; his broad lateral smears find their aural counterpart in Frisell’s wobbly yet hardnosed minimalism. Playing guitars and electronics, Frisell is his most experimental self; his writing for the 858 Quartet (with Hank Roberts on cello, Jenny Scheinman on violin and Eyvind Kang on viola) is rigorous and varied. In addition to interviews and heady preproduction notes, the booklet contains all eight paintings-dense, metallic-looking surfaces in which a multitude of colors meet in a play of contrasts: horizontal and vertical, focused and blurred, dark and light and so forth.

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