The significance behind influential guitarist Bill Frisell’s 858 Quartet theme was conceived several years ago when he was appointed to compose music inspired by artist Gerhard Richter’s 858 series of paintings. With the band’s first album in five years, its purveyance of modern Americana elicits lucid imagery via these seventeen endearing works that intertwine like a sequence of vignettes.
Frisell’s stylistic nomenclature poses a hybrid breadth of material that toggles between cutting-edge electronic jazz-fusion and the acoustic element that incorporates folk, jazz and avant-garde improvisation. Ultimately, this album sparks an aural storyline that skirts the fringes of Civil War era music with country blues; subliminal nods to chamber and progressive jazz elements.
Each piece stands on its own. Teeming with affection and memorable themes, the quartet enacts a homegrown vista designed with sinuous strings parts, extended note choruses and supple niceties. Not constrained or engineered with busy movements and extended soloing, the artists proclaim a wondrously balanced mode of attack.
They transmit minimalism, and ethereal notions on “It’s A Long Story,” where reflections of an arid one-horse town in the Wild West come to light. On “Suitcase In My Hand,” the quartet executes a walking country-blues motif, marked by a carefree stride with suitcase in hand. Moreover, Frisell often serves as the focal point via his deft picking and bluesy phrasings throughout. In sum, the quartet’s alluring sense of jubilance communicates a delightful alignment of life’s simple pleasures. It’s sublime, and quietly powerful.