Wednesday, August 31, 2005

 

HOM returns, Bill Frisell's latest

I'm back from Oregon. The hike from the trailhead to the humorously named Cliffs of Nannie was a brute, straight uphill for two miles over dusty switchbacks, without even a decent view. Luckily the trail leveled off after that, and we got a visual payoff--the slumping, snowcapped summit of Mount Adams--before dropping down to Sheep Lake. The lake itself was shallow, cool, stocked with some kind of mutated tadpoles and, the first afternoon, a party of skinny-dipping campers who had hiked in from Cispus Pass. Nature is a beautiful thing. Insects flew overhead making a sound like castanets. Some aggressive jays tried to steal our food. We also encountered a large gray marmot beneath the Cliffs of Nannie. This site calls them "charismatic sciurid rodents," and the guy did have a certain flair, standing his ground very nicely before sauntering up the hillside to a hidden burrow. Every night in the tent, with the headlamp strapped to my forehead, I tried to read a few pages of the new Kadare. Not much luck on that front. But I do have a backlog of books to discuss over the next few days--Leonard Michaels's Going Places, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Beach of Falesá, and Kayla Williams's I Love My Rifle More Than You--and I'll keep going with Ismail K.

Meanwhile, I reviewed the new live Bill Frisell, East/West, for WBUR Online Arts:
Will the real Bill Frisell please stand up? It's a question his admirers have been asking with increasing frequency over the past decade, as the brilliant guitarist and composer has donned and discarded all manner of stylistic finery: jazz, bluegrass, rock, world beat, and electronica. On a recent, unusually wide-ranging disc, Richter 858, he actually subbed for one of the violins in a string quartet. You have to hand it to the guy. Who else would be so self-effacing as to play second fiddle on his own recording?
It might not be clear from this opening salvo, but I loved the two-disc set, with a couple of minor caveats. You can read the entire review here.

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