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Bill Frisell: Big Sur

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Being both prolific and consistently compelling in jazz is a tough trick; it generally requires employing the same personnel and a trademark sound but convincingly reinventing the surrounding context. Guitarist Bill Frisell has managed this feat for about a decade now, and his 19-track Big Sur album, his first for Sony’s re-launched OKeh imprint, expertly balances newness with his dependable delights. So we get Frisell’s innately beautiful melodic sense as a composer and his penchant for loping midtempo waltzes and seemingly through-composed, score-like work; his understated touch and influential tone, glassy and shimmering but not slick; and an empathetic chamber ensemble comprising familiar faces: violinist Jenny Scheinman, violist Eyvind Kang, cellist Hank Roberts and drummer Rudy Royston.

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