Above; ecru and white, countless pieces drift down as if so much powder. To the right, they drift to rest on the eves and window frames of a small cedar shingle saltbox. Candles flicker in the front windows and sweet smelling plumes rise from the chimney to disappear in the ashen firmament. Just ahead, they drift to rest on a lonely town common and victorian gazebo, host and shelter to a family of geese, silent and motionless in the cold snow. To the left, they drift to rest on sand and disappear into rolling waves seamless and constant. In the distance, the waves themselves seem to crash in or out of the pale heavens, blurring sky and surf and storm. The guitars of Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuária melt together in my car speakers as if impossibly designed to echo the beauty in this very moment.
For those familiar with these two artists, either individually or in their previous collaborative incarnations including Frisell's own Intercontinentals or Cantuária's absorbing Horse and Fish, their high level of artistic integrity and deep level of musical simpatico is a given. However, on Lágrimas Mexicanas their collaboration reaches a milestone with their first true duet record. In fact, Frisell and Cantuária are the only two musicians on the entire record, credited with vocals, percussion, acoustic and electric guitars and loops. The only outside contribution comes in the form of production from long time Frisell collaborator; Lee Townsend.
The album opens with the pulsing funk of "Mi Declaracion" before setting off on it's broader exploration of the common and uncommon ground shared by jazz, blues, americana and the music of Mexico. The essence of the album, for me, is captured on "Calle 7" and "Lágrimas De Amor" (featuring Cantuária's beautifully distinctive vocal cadence), with the album reaching it's artistic peak on the atmospheric "Briga De Namorados". The blink-and-you-miss-it gem of "La Curva" has a simple and almost archetypal quality, as if the melody has always been there, floating in the ether. But the sweetest offerings of the collection are in those moments when it is simply one acoustic guitar and one electric guitar, Cantuária and Frisell "reacting to the sound of the thing" as Bill puts it, individual notes tumbling and fusing, dancing and consorting until they cease to be separate instruments or in fact instruments at all. The sweetest offerings are in those moments, where it is simply one beautiful sound.
Cantuária and Frisell are currently touring with this material and in hearing the fluidity they bring to their songs in the live setting, it is a beautiful and independent experience not to be missed.
Hopefully this is only the first of many sonic expeditions for these two prolific and pioneering artists.
Live Well & Listen Closely,
read more articles by music writer J. Hayes here and at: http://www.examiner.com/x-4161-New-American-Music-Examiner
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art direction & design by www.hayesdesignstudios.com
Special Thanks to Phyllis Oyama with Songline/Tone Field Productions and Pamela Lipshitz.