All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

506

Imagine: The Bill Frisell Trio

AAJ Staff By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
...when Frisell played Youve Got To Hide Your Love Away the magic of the voice silenced by violence once again took shape on the stage.
The Bill Frisell Trio
The Barbican
The London Jazz Festival
London, England
November 15, 2005

Every once in a while a performer can get away with what happened when Bill Frisell performed at the 2005 London Jazz Festival at the magnificent Barbican, but not often. Appearing with violinist Jenny Scheinman and guitarist Greg Leisz, he blew the rules away with a wave of his hand.
Bill Frisell has produced a long line of illustrious works such as the sensually hypnotic "Unspeakable, a Grammy winner last year, to "This Land, "Have a Little Faith and "Good Dog, Happy Man, every one a fine example of his breadth from Americana to near-trance music all under the heading of jazz.
Expecting a foray into these albums, he surprised the audience by immediately launching into "Across the Universe by the Beatles in a pool-lit trio with his colleagues on a bare stage. This then turned into an evening's tribute to the songwriting genius of a British native son, John Lennon. An hour and a half followed of pure magic in bass, electric and acoustic guitar; covering everything from the Beatles early discography with "Please, Please Me, to the raucous "Back in the USSR, to solo works of Lennon's, "Beautiful Boy, a medley incorporating "Imagine, and the haunting "Norwegian Wood . For anyone else and perhaps at some other time, this would have come off as patronizing a musician in his own land by a stranger, but when Frisell played "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away the magic of the voice silenced by violence once again took shape on the stage.
Whether you agreed with his politics or not, Lennon was a quixotic character who flew in the face of the conventions of the times and even his own character to make the rebellious statement he did in his life and his music. Ego-driven, petty at times and not above fighting in public, he was still unflinchingly honest with himself and was always focused, with detours, about rising above base human frailty to a higher ethic. "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away is the statement that most of us learn early only to expand, if we are successful, to the soaring questions of "Imagine . Frisell applied these concepts gently and without cloying and in doing so, reminded us all of our legacy and our task as human beings of finding our true human spirit. "In My Life, an almost obligatory hopeful yet poignant essay, became an anthem for the Queen's country in the face of the recent bombings in London and a fitting requiem for Lennon.

Frisell's own statement of jazz being a process and not a rarified style was evident in his almost folk-like yet unpredictable treatment of many of the tunes. He possesses the secret that the memorable ones always do, in the face of a culture that demands we all adhere to the standards set by the "flavor of the moment, he expresses himself with a lyric grace and lack of pretension as to play completely without ego. The expert accompaniment of his sideman on guitar, Greg Leisz, an expressive player on acoustic and lap slide guitar, and his truly graceful yet commanding violinist, Jenny Scheinman, bridged styles and moods seamlessly. The set took on the feeling of Mussorky's "Pictures at an Exhibition, with ethereal tone-poems between covers that wended their way from song to song and from feeling to feeling.

Music, when wielded by a wise and subtle hand can say more than politics ever will.

The also American trio, "Tin Hat, opened for Frisell, and between songs dropped a few hints about the current state of politics in the States, implying the deeply entrenched opposition of one group against another. Eclectic and worthy of note, they were an eerie mix of Klezmer meets Tim Burton meets Cirque du Soleil, but their sophomore status became evident in counterpoint to what the master Frisell was asking us to do: Imagine.

Visit Bill Frisell on the web.

Photo Credit: Michael Kurgansky


Shop For Jazz

  • 1968
    1968
    Bill Frisell
    Previously Unreleased AAJ...
  • Strange Meeting
    Strange Meeting
    Bill Frisell
    Previously Unreleased AAJ...
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Live Reviews
Rediscovery
Read more articles
When You Wish Upon a Star
When You Wish Upon a...
Okeh
2016
buy
Guitar in the Space Age!
Guitar in the Space...
Okeh
2014
buy
Silent Comedy
Silent Comedy
Tzadik
2013
buy
Big Sur
Big Sur
Okeh
2013
buy
The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved
The Kentucky Derby Is...
Savoy Jazz
2012
buy
Floratone II
Floratone II
Savoy Jazz
2012
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
John Scofield John Scofield
guitar
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar

Bill Frisell Events

Date Event Time Tickets
Sep17Sat Bill Frisell
Mountain Theater
Mill Valley, CA
11:00 am
Sep18Sun Bill Frisell
Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey, CA
12:00 pm
Oct4Tue Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct5Wed Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct6Thu Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct7Fri Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm
Oct8Sat Bill Frisell
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York, NY
8:00 pm

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.