Angst is not something associated with guitar maestro Bill Frisell, so when his quintet of violinist Jenny Scheinman, pedal steel and acoustic guitarist Greg Leisz, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen tackles John Lennon’s pain-filled Mother, it’s not quite as dark as the original with lyrics.
Frisell’s band bares the compositional bones of 16 Lennon songs (seven with McCartney) and weaves its colourful magic thereon, often catching the spirit of the originals while wrapping them differently.
Familiar melodies and harmonies can take a while to drift in amidst the swirl and swell of strings, while others are immediately recognisable. Give Peace a Chance is strangely surreal.
Frisell’s light embroidery reveals the essence of these tunes.
Download: Mother, Across the Universe
File between: John Lennon, Pat Metheny
This review also appeared in the Play section of the Sunday Herald Sun on December 4, 2011