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Live Reviews

Bill Frisell At The Stone

By Published: September 18, 2010
A slow blues followed, with a quiet beginning featuring edgy Keith Richards-like sparse chords as the tune got under way. It sounded like very distilled, thoughtful music. A major feature of the piece was the twang effect of bending the second to top string and picking the top string at the same time. Frisell began with the bend, the first use of it being a reverse, or downwards, country bend. Then he even began a bar with it, with the already in-place bend, to set up a tense sound world. He also used pedals to alter the sound, in this case emulating an organ. There was a flurry of drum sticks as Baron joined the fray. Baron occupied the next twelve bars with cacophonous bangs, tin-like, as Frisell colored the edges with chords or two-string picked strokes. The final set of twelve bars added country-style bass notes, as a rapid, organ-like flourish followed the dirty, grinding slow-blues ending.

Wall of Artist Photos at The Stone

From avant-garde sky painting to grinding blues. Frisell then changed to a classic swing-to-bop style tune, Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
' early "No Moe," felt by some to be a precursor of the more well-known "Oleo." This was a long piece, and very attractively played. A beautiful two octave-wide descending flow of notes ended on a neat four-note repetition of the tonic note. Montgomery-like chromatically placed chords arose here and there, and there was a Charles Ives signature—descending whole tones—heard twice: an effect similar to "The Wizard" from Frisell's Disfarmer (Nonesuch, 2009). There was also a brief seven-note Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
1916 - 1942
guitar, electric
figure, touching bass with the harmony, which led instantly to a growling John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
-like effect in three slow, chromatically falling notes.

The familiar bebop channel, in the tune's middle section, provided a sense of the familiar which, in contrast to the first two pieces, welcomed the audience to a more "homey," if not homely, territory.

"Wave" followed. Jobim's peerless, diminished scale-sparked melody allowed Frisell to show the close connection he has with melody. Far from being an artist who just produces atonal jarrings, he states that melody is really the main thing in his music. This was a fairly straight version of the tune.

At the end of "Wave," the audience might have been thinking about no moe' stuffy air. Several voiced the issue, and Frisell suggested that the title he had just played might have helped.

The closer was slow and spacious, a Pete Townshend "See Me Feel Me" sound recreated during one bar.

Bill Frisell, musical architect. His services were well provided at The Stone. Joey Baron was the perfect foil, a handy percussive draft board for Frisell's free-hand sketchings and etchings.

Photo Credit

Simon Jay Harper

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