Bill Frisell

Good Dog, Happy Man

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No doubt pleased with his countrified direction on Gone, Just Like a Train, Bill Frisell gives us a lot more of basically the same thing here -- only with expanded numbers in the ranks. Bassist Viktor Krauss and drummer Jim Keltner return, now accompanied by Wayne Horvitz's understated organ and piano; Greg Leisz on an assortment of fretted instruments, including the Dobro, pedal steel guitar and mandolin; and on "Shenandoah," Ry Cooder's atmospheric guitars. The first tracks of Good Dog, Happy Man pick up right where Gone, Just Like a Train left off -- low-key, perhaps too low-key -- but tracks like "Big Shoe" and "Cadillac 1959" add a bit of swagger to the lope and "Poem for Eva" sports the best tune. Again, Frisell often captures a loose, evolutionary jamming quality in these sessions, playing the country accents off of his jazz sensibilities. Unlike its predecessor, though, you can't imagine this being recorded on a backwoods front porch, for there are some production tricks and distant-sounding electronic loops that give away its Burbank studio origins. Purists on either side of the jazz/country divide are hereby warned to back off so that the rest of us can enjoy this.

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