Bill Frisell / Bill Frisell Band

Lookout for Hope

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Lookout for Hope Review

by Michael G. Nastos

Bill Frisell's early work even in its retrospectively rawest form holds all of the values that he has evinced through his entire career. Country and eastern sounds merge with a signature sky church electric approach that is unique unto only himself. Lookout for Hope brands Frisell as a visionary, a virtuoso, and a fusioneer of many sounds that set him far apart from labelmates Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, and Terje Rypdal. While both Frisell and Rypdal give giant kudos to Jimi Hendrix, there is a sense of peace and serenity that puts soulfulness on a different plane. Cellist Hank Roberts and bassist Kermit Driscoll have much to do with giving Frisell his head, weaving similar silver sounds in and through him. Then add Joey Baron's deft, precise, and colorful drumming to put the exclamation point on Frisell's new approach to improvised music. Where the haunting, ringing, rocking, strident sound of Hendrix is resurrected and modernized during the title selection, "Hang Dog" has the Afro-Asian minimalist resonance of Steve Reich accented in 7/8 time by Frisell's banjo. Nods to Ornette Coleman's puzzle-pieced surety on the peppy head arrangement of "The Animal Race" and the twangy, witty, cartoonish take of Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack" brands Frisell a true maverick and individualist. At its best, east and west merge someplace in between during the memorably beautiful overdubbed and echoing sounds on "Lonesome," while the slight yet sincere expectation evinced on "Animal Prints" is the seamless and alluring alchemy of natural, spiritual, and ethereal. With Lookout for Hope, Bill Frisell is not so much setting trends and fashion as he is establishing a fresh sound, utterly unique from all others, and laying a foundation for many things to come.

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