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Kevin Frenette: Fall River Guitar Guy

Gordon Marshall By

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Same thing with John. I saw John countless times playing fantastic gigs, and thought his approach to drums was unbelievable. And to be able to play with them now, after almost learning how to play by listening—not just watching but listening to the CDs—it's amazing for me. It makes me better. From the first time we hit together, it was already there. Just 'cause I knew how they were going to play. And it's been perfect. James is a fantastic guy, and he's so positive. He wants to go out there and make something beautiful, and the same thing with John. And that's what we're doing now.

From left: Andy McWain, John McLellan, Kevin Frenette

The thing with John is, he plays like no other drummer. He drops the bottom out. The pulse is there and it's so strong, but it's just implied. He's decorating. He's like a painter, I think. He's just decorating around the beat, and you almost feel the beat from watching him—

AAJ: Like negative space?

KF: Exactly. And that is huge to me. I find that I'm reacting so much to what he's not playing. And that's what pushes this band forward—is the fact that everyone's holding back.

AAJ: Almost like trust falls.

KF: I totally agree. Everybody's just pulling back and being really self-aware of making something beautiful. I know James is always thinking "beautiful support" in what he's playing. And I'm just trying to play beautiful melodies over what he is, or the best melodies that I could possibly play—and it couldn't be easier with John there. Everything he plays is perfect.

AAJ: Is this all improvised, or do you have any notation?

KF: All improvised.

AAJ: Because it is reminiscent of Bill Dixon. In his Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12, 2009), he uses notation in a special way. It's part of a whole system that involves intensive studio preparation and improvisation as well. Bill Dixon is unique, so you can never sum up what he's doing in a technical synopsis—it's never as simple as pure notation or improvisation. And no one agrees on what he's doing, technically speaking.

The same can be said for you. You can't reduce what you do to music theory, you're doing so many different things. It's complex on one level and simple on another.

KF: Yeah. I think it's pulling from everything we know, at all times. Everyone's feeding off of that.

Selected Discography

Kevin Frenette Quartet, Live at the 119 Gallery (Abrasive Chair, 2010)

Kevin Frenette Trio, Fragile Moments (Abrasive Chair, 2010)

Kevin Frenette 4, Connections (Fuller Street, 2006)

Photo Credits

Pages 1-3: Lisa Frenette

Page 4: Matt Samolis

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