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iTunes Review

Disfarmer resulted from a commission for Bill Frisell to write music to accompany a touring retrospective of the rural portraits captured by eccentric Arkansas photographer Michael Disfarmer between 1939 and 1945. Frisell, who has long drawn inspiration from a wide swath of Americana, is a master guitarist of rare understatement and delicacy whose impressionistic approach, subtle use of distortion and sound loops, and idiosyncratic phrasing create an atmosphere conducive to introspection. Joined by bassist Viktor Krauss, violinist Jenny Scheinman, and Greg Leisz on steel guitars and mandolin, these moody instrumentals are spare, evocative, and mysterious. Many of the 26 tracks are melodic vignettes that run less than two minutes — they swirl about hauntingly before drifting away like smoke. Most of the tunes were composed by Frisell but he also adds a few covers that fit in smoothly including Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s Alright, Mama” and Hank Williams’ “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)” and “Lovesick Blues.” Disfarmer is another moving work by this brilliant and difficult-to-classify guitarist.

Customer Reviews

Excellent Addition to Frisell's Catalog: But Shame On iTunes

Wonderful recording. However it's available on the Nonesuch website for $4 less ($10) AND it's in CD quality there (320 instead of Apple's 256: EVERYTHING on iTunes should be 320 I say, and there should be cover art as well at the prices they charge). Nonsense I say. Wise Up iTunes.

Disfarmer in particular, but all of Frisell's repertoire in general...

Bill Frisell is awesome, and so damn understated! He's got music box innards he winds up and places on the strings of his tele above the pickups.... He's run it all, at times, though a zvex ringtone pedal, and I'll be darned if that thing can make any sounds that are not dissonant and awkward sounding, but he pulls it off. Someone in some forum said his sound is 99% in his fingers, but he's an expert working with effects and uses them to go where no one has gone before! He messes with time, has been good at that since he had his stint with ECM in the 80's and with Zorn, he just assaulted the listener! The Disfarmer stuff just seeps out of the soul of Herber Springs Arkansas, and is representative and as evocative as a book full of really quirky, interesting, and profound photographs.


Being both a photographer deeply familiar with Disfarmer's work and a guitarist, again, deeply familiar with Frisell's work, this recording from the first listen struck me as brilliant. Disfarmer worked in an archaic way (though not completely archaic for his time) using a large format view camera to produce his images. When a photographer is under the dark cloth viewing the ground glass and composing, the world you see is both upside down and reversed (left is right and right is left). Over time this view of the world becomes normalized, no different really from seeing the world in a more conventional way. Frisell's music, through his use of loops and delays, bends time - the photographer's most essential aesthetic commodity. As each photograph is a fractional cross section of time, an intersection between photographer and subject, an intersection of heart and eye, so too is Frisell's compositional sense. This is brilliant work by one of our greatest living jazz guitarists and composers.


Born: March 18, 1951 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The defining characteristic of any given jazz musician is frequently his sound. The more control a player has over the nature of that sound, the more likely he is to project a distinctive musical personality. For example, a saxophonist has virtually unlimited physical control of the sound that comes through his horn, and therefore a wide range of tonal expression at his command, which partially explains the disproportionate number of saxophonists in the pantheon of great jazz musicians. On the other...
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Disfarmer, Bill Frisell
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