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Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan: Small Town (ECM)

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Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan: "Small Town"
Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan: “Small Town”

Although he’s collaborated with dozens of diverse artists throughout his career, guitarist Bill Frisell is still somewhat picky about whom he chooses to work with. He requires a rapport that is both simpatico and challenging—no sense playing with someone unless they’re going to take him someplace new. He’s one of the most adaptable, open-minded musicians around, at his most fertile when he’s plugged directly into other sharp minds.

Thomas Morgan, the double bassist who shares this live-at-the-Village-Vanguard session with Frisell, is a good fit. He’s understated, never in the way and savvy enough to serve as solid support to Frisell’s frugal precision. On the Carter Family-associated “Wildwood Flower,” the two engage in a sprightly, good-humored dance, Morgan occasionally suggesting melodic alternatives that Frisell is all too happy to take up. For Lee Konitz’s “Subconscious-Lee,” Morgan walks it as Frisell talks it; they’re on parallel paths that intersect just often enough to remind them that they’re headed in the same direction.

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