Fred Frith

Live At The Stone: All Is Always Now

Duos, trios and one quartet are featured on this retrospective sampling of 2006–2016 performances by guitarist Fred Frith at iconic New York venue The Stone. It’s an understatement to say that there’s a lot to process on this three-disc set, and as with any endeavor, some pieces will mesmerize or delight more than others. The entirety of the program falls under the free improvisation banner with textures, colors, tones and pitches at the heart of most of the pieces; electronics and effects dominate. Normal, Frith’s duo with junk master Sudhu Tewari, churns out disturbing soundscapes; and “Identity Crisis” finds Jessica Lurie’s lyrical saxophone added to a trio and pitted against Frith’s liquefied guitar. Interestingly, collaborations with the best-known artists here usually are not as compelling. But there still are moments to savor, including the ominous “Slipping,” which pairs Frith with avant-gardist Ikue Mori and trumpeter Nate Wooley.