[Savoy Jazz (2010)]
What does a lovingly rendered Stephen Foster classic have in common with a discordant interlude called “No Time to Cry”? It’s the stellar and unusual interplay between Bill Frisell’s out-of-the-ordinary jazz guitar and Eyvind Kang’s otherworldly viola. Kang and Frisell work both comfortably in concert and productively at odds to produce Beautiful Dreamers, ten intriguing originals and six amazingly interpreted covers. Purists will love the charming dance between viola and guitar on the standard “Tea for Two,” and those craving something out of the box will cheer the instruments’ playful dialogue on “A Worthy Endeavor (for Cajori).” Drummer Rudy Royston waxes pristine on “Baby Cry” before taking a Krupa-like turn for the irresistible “Benny’s Bugle.” A highlight is “Worried Woman,” with the rough edges of viola enfolding Frisell’s guitar within an exquisite folk-blues jam. Bill Frisell’s penchant for eclecticism is superbly showcased here as he and Kang snatch “Goin’ Out of My Head” from the place in pop music Heaven where Little Anthony and the Imperials first put it, and deposit it in a twangy niche somewhere between back porch country and very cool jazz.
—Ellen Geisel (Ballston Lake, NY)
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