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Bill Frisell - Guitar in the Space Age! / All About Jazz review

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Though prototype electric guitar first appeared in the early 1930s, the instrument only became a staple of popular music in the 1950s and 1960s. As a musical revolution was evolving, so was a different type altogether -space exploration. Sixty years on, in an age when the challenge is just to keep abreast of technological innovations it takes an effort to imagine the seismic shift that the electric guitar and space travel-and television that brought such adventures into millions of homes-signified for youngsters like Bill Frisell.

Growing up in Denver, Frisell was just eleven when Telstar made headlines as the first direct relay communications satellite to be launched into space. He was barely in his teens when Chicago blues, surf music and the era's alt-country that has so informed his playing first impacted. Here Frisell re-explores his musical roots-or perhaps joins the dots-once again in the soulful company of Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen, who wove their collective charms on Frisell's John Lennon tribute All We Are Saying (Savoy Jazz, 2011).

That album and Guitar in the Space Age feel in some ways like companion pieces-sonic sculptures hewn from similar source material. However, if there's a suggestion that Frisell is getting a little nostalgic in the autumn of his years it's worth remembering that Frisell's two releases sandwiched between All We Are Saying and Guitar in the Space Age were the avant-garde solo guitar album Silent Comedy and the contemporary chamber-meets-country suite Big Sur. With Frisell, there's a time for stretching the boundaries and, as with Guitar in the Space Age, there's a time for plain-old having fun. READ THE FULL All About Jazz REVIEW.