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All Hat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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Album Review

All Hat is the soundtrack to the 2007 Leonard Farlinger film of the same name. Based on the brilliant novel by Brad Smith (who also wrote the screenplay), Farlinger's film is set in Ontario and involves an ex-baseball playing ex-con, a transplanted Texas cowboy who farms and raises losing race horses, a gambling addict and tycoon who wants to take over the town's farms to build a casino and hotel. Inserted into this is Frisell's score, built on his rootsy Americana side of fully fleshed out on his classic Nashville album with some of the same players: Viktor Krauss is here, as is Greg Leisz, and so are violinist Jenny Scheinman, drummer Scott Amendola, and Mark Graham on harmonica. Even though the score commences with Frisell's own interpretation of country, bluegrass, and folk and rock, it feels more like his impersonation — with his signature sound of course — of a Ry Cooder film score. This may not be an entirely fair characterization because Cooder as a guitarist set a new standard and created a new way to score movies in the modern era. It's also not a criticism. Frisell's cues range from basic instrumentation to some distorted guitar loops to some beautifully reverb-laden playing with gorgeous lap, pedal, and National steel guitars from Leisz. Krauss, a bluegrass player by nature, is the most rocksteady rhythm-nator around. Scheinman gets to gloss things over with her newfound hard-edged country and blues playing — check "Stable Scene" and the funky "Sting." Characters are given their own themes, and in Frisell's soundworld this becomes an effective narrative flow when it comes to the film's images. The music here does tend to go by in a blur if you're not paying attention, but that's because of its crystalline character and tasteful subtlety. There's a lot going on here all the time. It's beautiful throughout and highly recommended for fans of Frisell's more Americana related material. It's a wonder that EmArcy didn't give this more of a push when it was released.

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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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All Hat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Bill Frisell
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