'All music is folk music,' Louis Armstrong said. 'I ain't never heard no horse sing a song' - and given that authority, Folk Songs is an apt enough title for the first Bill Frisell 'greatest hits' collection on the Nonesuch label. No other jazz guitarist of his generation, not even Pat Metheny, has drawn more deeply from the American folk and country music traditions in making music which is, nevertheless, unmistakeably jazz. He is, however, a multifaceted talent whose jazz, blues and world music interests have inspired him to create a much more varied oeuvre than the tunes on The Best of Bill Frisell, Volume 1: Folk Songs would suggest. The idea was presumably to make this a tuneful, easily accessible sampler of Frisell's more pastorally slanted recordings. It draws on only eight of the albums he has released on Nonesuch as a leader (there are more than 20 to date) and sidesteps the darker, more angular side of his playing and composing altogether. Conspicuously missing are any of the collaborations on which Frisell has been billed as an equal with his fellow musicians - the albums with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones and with Paul Motian and Ron Carter or the Intercontinentals for example - anything from the East/West live album, or from 'special projects' recordings, such as his music for Buster Keaton's films. It also seems strange, given that Frisell has recorded prolifically for Nonesuch, that the label's first retrospective collection of his work should be a single CD. To Nonesuch's credit, however, the aim here seems to be to encourage new listeners to explore further, not to separate Frisell's fans from their hard-earned cash. Everything here has been previously released, and there are no supplementary 'rarities' or new recordings to tempt those who already have much of this music. What the album does achieve is a good sampling of Frisell's instrumental work in the field now known as 'Americana'. Although most of the sidemen on these recordings are not jazz players, there are nevertheless some major names here - Ry Cooder on guitar, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Greg Leisz on pedal steel and Jim Keltner on drums among them. Frisell's approach can be likened to that of alto saxophonist Bud Shank, who died on April 2 at the age of 82, who also took an interest in more exotic musical forms, never forgetting that jazz is supposed to be 'the sound of surprise'. In addition to working with Charlie Barnet, Stan Kenton, Bill Perkins and our own Allen Youngblood, Shank was equally at home blowing with Ravi Shankar, and played one of the most famous flute solos in rock on the Mamas and the Papas' California Dreamin'. Sessions in the US for Youngblood's next album project were planned at the time of his death. RIP. The gig of the week is a residency on Wednesday and Thursday at Backstage Live featuring a reunion of Australian jazzmen Dale Barlow on saxophone, Guy Le Claire on guitar, Andrew Gander on drums, and Peter Scherr on bass. According to Le Claire the music will be 'a mix of original compositions, some pop covers rearranged, and classic jazz standards'. For further details, go to www.backstagelive.hk .