Bill Frisell Trio live | Leverkusener Jazztage 2023

Posted: Apr 14, 2024   12:28:14 AM   |   Last updated: Apr 14, 2024   12:34:12 AM
by Pascal-Denis Lussier

BillFriseel 2023 Leverkusen

Here's another Bill Frisell Trio concert that's definitely worth the listen, making every second spent on a re-listen priceless moments.

SInce hearing it for the first time yesterday—an event I can best describe if using the word "orgasm"—life is mostly priceless...

With two more years playing with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston since the 2021 Jazzaldia Frisell concert I had shared, and with a Fender rather than the Gibson, Frisell is delivering from a place of absolute comfort in this showing. And the world is better for it.

The energy bristles and snaps, peaks to its loudest through soft sentences and filled silences; it's infectious, coursing through listeners who are complicit, drawn into the exchange, hearing, reacting, electrified vigour having laken over when the distortion mounts and the reverb amps up... and where's the madman with 5 arms and 7 drum sticks? That dude looks way too chill...

The sound sculpting by Frisell on this one establishes why so many try so hard to emulate him, only managing to achieve it in an ephemeral manner that offers but a surface glimpse of the artist.

At the start of a concert I was at, John Scofield—a guitar great in his own right—had mentioned Frisell and the show he gave within the same festival, then went on to praise Frisell, saying, though I'm paraphrasing: "I also play with tone, and I can do loops, and I know how to use the same effects as Frisell, so, I figured I'd be able to do his stuff no problem, maybe even better... but, it turns out, Frisell does all three at the same time, and he adds emotion and passion on top... that, I can't do."

Rudy Royston... jeez, man! Like, holy crap! Some of the time changes he manages, inserting odd-beat oddities that fit right in, filling more space than one realised was there as he's continually accentuating, never simply setting time.

He's just at the edge of overstated and over-the-top at times but he never crosses that line, never going into "look at me," Steve Vai-styled gimmickry that easily wows publics but offers as much substance as a Big Mac.

Thomas Morgan, however, you kinda forget he's there at all, frankly, which, practically, makes his performance a "perfect" one if seen with the symbolic significance of a baseball pitcher throwing a perfect game.        

This version of "What The World Needs Now Is Love" is far superior than the Jazzaldia one, but, for one of the best, have a listen to the one in this 2017 Montreux Festival live show he did with his previous Tony Sherr, Kenny Wollesen trio.         

"You Only Live Twice" appears to now fill a spot in Frisell's changing repertoire of standards. While the Jazzaldia version had "wowed" me, this one solidified my "awe"; the three just make it groove, but do so by focusing on the melodic brilliance of the chart, not on its groovability potential.

On the other hand, 'Shenandoah" is one he seemed to have let go of for a bit, bringing it back for this live concert. 

Frisell recorded a version of the Americana trad-tune "Shenandoah" with Ry Cooder for his 1999 Good Dog, Happy Man album, and, although hearing two guitar masters with a love of Americana come together to cover it should provide the go-to reference for those wanting to hear Frisell's interpretation of this classic, it's the one I'm least likely to think of and to go to, the takes that managed to truly move me all coming out of his live trio performances. This version also now sits before his 'official' 1999, Cooder-collaborated cut.  

Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" is another that delivered an intimate, powerfully profound and moving Frisell reimagining that's no longer making a regular showing in his setlist. Eager to see this trio tackle it.

I'm actually glad he keeps altering as he also keeps on writing new charts, too, which is why he hasn't had anything I'd qualify as a stale period, nor the typical breakout-turned-stale career; always Friselling, he is! 

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Setlist

  1. 1. Keep Your Eyes Open 00:01
  2. 2. Blues From Before 10:45
  3. 3. My Man´s Gone Now 25:00 (George Gershwin)
  4. 4. Follow Your Heart 35:33 (John McLaughlin)
  5. 5. Lush Life 46:53 (Billy Strayhorn)
  6. 6. Shenandoah 1:00:12 (Traditional)
  7. 7. You Only Live Twice 1:01:19 (John Barry)
  8. 8. What The World Needs Now Is Love 1:13:10 (Burt Bacharach)
Posted 40 days ago  Last updated: Apr 14, 2024, 12:34 AM

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