Bill Frisell: Live Last Night
By Mike Joyce
It's not often that a jazz drummer has the best seat in the house, yet certainly that was the case when the Bill Frisell Trio performed at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater on Friday night. True to form, Kenny Wollesen was perched between -- and a few feet behind -- guitarist Frisell and bassist Tony Scheer, who faced each other onstage, their profiles to the audience. As a result, only Frisell's bandmates could see his hands roam the fretboard as the ensemble moved through a typically odd assortment of tunes -- original pieces as well as compositions by Thelonious Monk, Lucinda Williams, Lee Konitz, Burt Bacharach and others.
(Frisell's bandmates keep a close eye on him, after the jump.)
Nothing, however, obscured view of Frisell's footwork. He often used pedal effects to generate orchestral loops of sound, pinballing backdrops and jarring shifts in dynamics. Yet for all the electronic tweaking, what stood out most was Frisell's inherent fascination with melodic pull. Though he seldom approaches a theme head-on, preferring curious preludes played in free time, Frisell is nonetheless a sucker for enduring folk tunes, romantic pop and jazz lyricism. The trio's performances of "Shenandoah," "Misty" and "What the World Needs Now" offered ample proof of that, complete with some Telecaster-triggered twang, and the guitarist seem to take particular delight while tracing and amplifying the angular intervals that distinguish the Monk theme, "Misterioso." Of course, Wollesen and Scheer were purposefully positioned onstage, the better to anticipate Frisell's quirky moves and to accommodate the ensemble's now hushed, now kinetic brand of interplay.
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