It’s official: Bill Frisell’s first album as a leader for Blue Note Records, Harmony, will be released October 4 on vinyl, CD, and digital formats. Produced by longtime collaborator Lee Townsend and recorded by Tucker Martine at Flora Recording in Portland, Oregon, the album features an unusual quartet format that focuses on harmony of the vocal sort; singer Petra Haden takes the lead, but cellist Hank Roberts and guitarist/bassist Luke Bergman also chime in with vocals (though not Frisell, a staunch non-singer). The album’s opening track, “Everywhere,” is available today to stream or download; check it out in full here. A promotional video introducing the album was also made available today—watch it below.
The result of a commission from the FreshGrass Music Festival, an organization dedicated to the vitality of contemporary American roots music, Harmony features new compositions, reworked music from Frisell’s catalog, and a selection of jazz and Americana staples. The drummer-less configuration—which hovers between chamber ensemble, small-group jazz, and classic American folk/country harmony group—is new (or relatively so; the band’s live debut was in 2016), but longtime fans will recognize the eclectic blend of material as typically Frisellian.
“If I think back throughout my whole life, all the music that I’ve loved,” the guitarist said in a statement, “why can’t it all be there at the same time? You can play a Bob Dylan song and you can play a standard song or a Charlie Parker song, and they can fit together. Why not? There’s no reason why you can’t have ‘Lush Life’ and ‘Red River Valley’ on the same album. They’re both beautiful songs.”
The track listing for Harmony is as follows:
- “Everywhere” (Music by Bill Frisell)
- “God’s Wing’d Horse” (Music by Bill Frisell / Words by Julie Miller)
- “Fifty Years” (Music by Bill Frisell)
- “Hard Times” (Words & Music by Stephen Foster)
- “Deep Dead Blue” (Music by Bill Frisell / Words by Elvis Costello)
- “There in a Dream” (Music by Charlie Haden / Words by Jesse Harris)
- “Lonesome” (Music by Bill Frisell)
- “On the Street Where You Live” (Music by Alan Jay Lerner / Words by Frederick Loewe)
- “How Many Miles?” (Music by Bill Frisell)
- “Lush Life” (Words and Music by Billy Strayhorn)
- “Honest Man” (Music by Bill Frisell)
- “Red River Valley” (Traditional)
- “Curiosity” (Music by Bill Frisell)
- “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” (Words and Music by Pete Seeger)
Preorder Harmony here.