Bill Frisell Trio - Jazzaldia

Posted: Dec 1, 2023   6:12:00 AM   |   Last updated: Feb 24, 2024   8:46:22 PM
by Pascal-Denis Lussier

Bill Frisell v2

Guitarist Bill Frisell in concert with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston.

I'm a huge fan of Frisell's music and ingenuity, his careful phrasings, and improvisational skills; his live looping techniques and solo works are entirely responsible for my guitar hobby. He's also opened up a tonal dynamic previously not expanded on through plectrum instruments, and creates rich tapestries and atmospheres that make it equally valid to describe him as a sonic sculptor, but all's done gimmick free. Pure self expression, heartfelt and honest.

Times have changed, and digital led to an oversaturation, but those in the know will be hard pressed to disagree: Frisell is our time's Miles Davis, his contribution to the world of music is immense, having inspired countless musicians (Eddy Vedder of Pearl Jam names him as his greatest influence, for one) and a slew of emulators. But there's only one Frisell.

He's also the musician that's most in demand; you've probably heard him play on one album or another without being aware.  

I never tire of hearing him play. I've been following his career for 30 years now, had the pleasure of seeing him live nine times, and with 118 albums with him as leader (studio and live recordings) or on which he's featured, he's actually in second place for the artist I've the most albums of (John Zorn comes first, Fred Frith third; there's a fair bit of overlap between the three, though, Zorn's wildly avant-garde, quick-change Naked City, along with Wayne Horvitz and Joey Baron being my entry point to these musicians).        

He has a knack for surrounding himself with superbly expressive musicians that just "get" his music, whether his own compositions, of which there are many, or the various covers he's made a part of his 'standards', this being true across the various ensemble sizes he leads.

I was deeply disappointed when he moved away from his original trio with Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron (what became of Driscoll is sad; wonder if he's still in jail), but Tony Scherr and Kenny Wolleson brought a different dimension that saw me being disappointed to see a gradual transition toward Morgan and Royston. But they, too, bring a different dimension. Royston—his snare work is something else—brings Baron's angular accents to Wollesen's lyricism.

And no matter how many versions of the same tune I've heard Frisell and band play, each one offers a unique experience. That's because Frisell, along with those he includes in his projects, all seem to excel in one area, this being what makes all the difference: listening. He doesn't force musicians to play his music, his way; the charts played merely serve as common ground for the musical exchange and conversation taking place, personalities and moods, the musicians' and crowd's, all factoring in.

Listened to this concert four times already; probably will listen to it again. Felt like sharing it.

The second half is sure to be more interesting if not a jazz fan, in which case I'd recommend starting at around 48 mins, and to then expand your listening range, moving away from that electronic-drenched, pop garbage.

His take of Burt Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now is Love" (near end) is simply gorgeous. And the "You Only Live Twice" Bond theme encore managed to surprise me.

Hope you enjoy.

Posted 6 months ago  Last updated: Feb 24, 2024, 8:46 PM