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Bill Frisell Trio at Tivoli Vredenburg in Utrecht

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Bill Frisell Trio
TivoliVredenburg
Utrecht, Netherlands
November 14, 2023

Hearing Bill Frisell's Trio at Tivoli Vredenburg in Utrecht was a mesmerizing experience on a rainy night, transcending the ordinary boundaries of musical performance. The trio, comprising Bill Frisell at the helm, drummer Rudy Royston to his left, and bassist Thomas Morgan to his right, delivered an uninterrupted 90-minute set that can only be described as a masterclass in empathy, interplay and all aspects of musicality.

From the very beginning, the trio's communication was telepathic, weaving seamlessly from one song to the next with a rare blend of intricacies and subtleties. Frisell, with his stature as an eclectic and imaginative electric guitarist, led the trio into a realm of sonic exploration. His encouragement of his fellow musicians created a dynamic interplay where musical resolutions quivered with harmonious ambiguities and a rich palette of colors. Each accent, each reverberating chord, became an invitation to traverse uncharted sonic landscapes. Their playing was marked by continuous smiles, a testament to their shared joy and responsiveness to one another.

The audience found themselves on a journey, guided by the telepathic connection of the trio, exploring the depths of harmony and color painted by Frisell's masterful guitar, Morgan's anchoring bass, and Royston's celestial percussion. Frisell's guitar work was nothing short of extraordinary. Occupying a world of his own, he slowed down indelible melodies, finding unusual tonalities in his sparely painted notes and chords. As the trio delved into the musical tapestry, their synchronized breaths transformed the space. The trio huddled together in the center of the stage, transforming the cavernous Hall into an intimate space where every note resonated with touch, ears and instinct.

The balance of musical personalities was evident—the self-effacing Frisell, the pithy and laconic Morgan, and the more extroverted Royston, whose expression was nuanced with infinite subtleties. The semicircular arrangement with Frisell at the center facilitated their connection, creating a tight musical bond that was palpable throughout the performance.

The set flowed seamlessly, creating a trancelike intensity that captivated the audience. The typical applause for individual solos was replaced by rapt silence as the audience became locked in a groove with the band. Morgan's upright bass produced a huge sound, mostly played pizzicato, adding depth to the trio's sonic landscape. The songs ranged from spacey and mellow to folk-like, showcasing the trio's versatility. Royston's expressive drumming, marked by smiles exchanged with Frisell, added an extra layer of joy to the performance.

The concert concluded with one long encore, dynamic and colorful, leaving the audience in awe of the trio's musical prowess. As the performance drew to a close, Bill Frisell stepped forward with hands raised in a clasp, shyly surveying the hall. It was a moment of shared sanctified space in the orbit of Frisell's world, a world where musicality and imagination reign supreme.

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