Bill Frisell / Thomas Morgan
Recorded in 2016 live at the Village Vanguard this is the second set recorded in the same year and circumstances by the duo of Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan. Their Small Town album is lovely – a range of covers from various corners of the world. And so it is here too with this – effectively a second volume. Paul Motian is covered again in tribute, and there are walks through country (Wildwood Flower) and Bond Themes (You Only Live Twice) and classic jazz standards (both the title track and Pannoica coming from Thelonious Monk, as well as tender reading of the Coltrane/Ellington staple from the pen of Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life).
What’s to be heard here – in the music and so often in the spaces between the notes – is the deep connection between Frisell and Morgan. They play together in quartet settings also but this duo work shows how empathic both players are towards one another, towards the songs; because of the songs…
Frisell’s touch, as always, is impeccable. Just listen to the closer, In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning, for tone and touch and control and emotion that could make you weep. And there deep inside that song and all around Frisell’s playing – without ever clouding – is the noble bass-work from Thomas Morgan. It’s so gently astounding.
So if you already dug Small Town this is more of the same – but maybe all up this is the better song-selection. And if you’re thinking of checking this out because of anything else Frisell has done (and fair enough) then do try the earlier volume too. There’s something so heartening about hearing these two players working together – delicately coaxing the tunes into place and never making it seem like they are pushing hard. You can hear a pin-drop during these performances. It’s a beautiful thing. A truly beautiful listening experience.
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