Bill Frisell Trio
If it can be done with an electric guitar, Bill Frisell has probably done it. From jazz and classical to pop and country, the Grammy-winning guitarist has spent four decades roaming far and wide through American music.
His supreme versatility and humble virtuosity carried him from landmark ECM and Paul Motian records through the downtown scene of John Zorn and into the wider pastures of Americana. But there’s one thing he’d never gotten around to doing until 2020: releasing an album by his trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston, even though their rapport was well known and well honed.
“This album is all about Rudy and Thomas and the musical relationship I have with them,” Frisell said to Glide Magazine about Valentine, which was produced by another faithful collaborator, Lee Townsend, and released by Blue Note. With Morgan—whom The New York Times noted as a force on “some of the most intriguing jazz records” of recent years (citing Steve Coleman, Craig Taborn, and Steve Cardenas)—and Royston, who’s drummed with the likes of Dave Douglas and Rudresh Mahanthappa, Frisell plays cunning, questing originals that gain outspoken context from several acutely chosen covers, including “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “We Shall Overcome.”
Thom Jurek at AllMusic called Valentine “a portrait of this trio at a creative peak” and “one of [the] most inquiring, rhythmically inventive, and lyrical” albums of Frisell’s huge discography. All About Jazz said it sounded like the beginning of a great adventure—but isn’t that how every first note by Frisell feels?