Recorded live at New York's Village Vanguard, Small Town features acclaimed guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan in duet fashion playing a selection of covers and a few original pieces, highlighting both avant-garde experimentation and gorgeous melodic soundscapes. The fact that these performances took place at such a historic venue as the Village Vanguard only further enriches the final product. Kicking off with Paul Motian's "It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago", the duo branch out into dreamy, atmospheric waters, Frisell's weaving, snaking lines swirling around the legato bass of Morgan, with the guitarist letting loose with some effects laden soundscapes towards the final moments. For the Lee Konitz classic "Subconscious Lee", the two pick up the pace, Morgan's propulsive bass grooves driving Frisell to speedy, melodic flights for a more traditional jazz feel. The Frisell original "Song For Andrew No. 1" is a lovely, introspective number, Bill's deft touch just remarkable, as he's able to say just as much with three notes as many other players do with 10, but it's the space he leaves in between those notes that work so well, with Morgan dropping in his velvety notes in between. Jazz meets country & western on the charming "Wildwood Flower", and the alluring title track, another Frisell original, also has a rootsy feel that draws upon jazz, blues, country, and a touch of surf, once again showing the vast compositional & musical skills of this incredible artist. Another highlight is the lengthy "Poet-Pearl", a 12-minute excursion written by the duo, Morgan's gentle bass bobbing along while Frisell wrenches all sorts of melodies and sounds out of his guitar, his use of harmonics just astounding as is the duos ability to weave counterpoint melodies around each other. Also noteworthy is their take on the John Barry classic "Goldfinger", here given royal yet slightly mysterious treatment thanks to some haunting tones from Frisell.
One can only imagine how mesmerizing it must to have been sitting in the Village Vanguard, watching & listening to these two master musicians creating this lush, intriguing music together. Thankfully ECM Records has released this now for everyone to enjoy.
01 It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago
02 Subconscious Lee
03 Song For Andrew No. 1
04 Wildwood Flower
05 Small Town
06 What A Party
07 Poet _ Pearl