Matt Chamberlain, Bill Frisell, Tucker Martine, Lee Townsend

Floratone [Blue Note]
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Taking a page from the Miles Davis/Teo Macero playbook, guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain teamed up with longtime production pals Martine and Townsend to create this studio-collaged musical masterpiece—but Floratone doesn’t sound anything like Bitches Brew or In a Silent Way. The “futurist roots music” presented here began as several hours of freewheeling improvisation by Frisell and Chamberlain, who then turned the resulting tapes over to the producers. Martine and Townsend assembled compositional outlines from the best parts, and then Frisell wrote and arranged melodies—played primarily by violist Eyvind King and cornetist Ron Miles—and overdubbed more guitar parts. Contributions from bassist Viktor Krauss and additional drum and percussion overdubs by Chamberlain completed the process.

The 11 compositions flow one into another like segments of a steady-moving river—in turns brooding, swampy, choppy, effervescent, and translucent. Chamberlain’s tasteful grooves and accents provide the deepwater impetus, while Frisell’s soulful vamps, plucky palm-mutes, shimmering harmonics, textural twang, and spacey atmospherics weave together into so many currents and undercurrents, as the horn and string lines glide majestically over the surface. As intriguing as it is enjoyable, Floratone is easily one of the best records of 2007.
—Barry Cleveland