Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heard Over The Weekend - Bill Frisell Trio, The Persuasions

I'm leaving town later today (more details when I return after Memorial Day), so I thought I would present my thoughts on live music heard this weekend in a time-savingly terse note format.

Bill Frisell Trio at the Village Vanguard, Friday Early Set

Seen Frisell many times - various musical contexts - first time seeing Trio in a club setting

Frisell Trio - individual personalities/looks - Scherr capable of a hard-swinging walk, dances with bass, eye contact with Frisell, laughing at inside musical jokes - Wollesen loose-limbed, switching out to brushes mid-song for a dynamic downshift, responsive to and responsible for shifts in mood/intensity - Frisell locked in with Scherr, smiling, genial mad scientist in guitar effects lab - at some point during set, imagined Bill Frisell Trio as Muppets - would make great video

Set opened with electronics/improvisation coalescing into blues/jazz motifs

Stephen Foster's "Hard Times" - another in a series of Frisell's "topical" song selections: "Masters of War", "What the World Needs Now...", "A Change is Gonna Come"

Bright, driving, major-key, almost jangly/poppish tune - guitar had Rick 12-string-like sound, strangely reminiscent of early British invasion, but more Herman's Hermits than Beatles - never heard Frisell play anything quite like this - exhilarating

Ended with Monk(?) - "Jackie-ing"? - definitely swinging, boppish, sounded familiar

Frisell deployed his music box trick couple times - winding up a music box, holding it up to guitar, deploying sound as a loop

Trio was loose, inventive - comfort level to experiment but easily locked into grooves and pushed to powerful crescendos - from chaos to order

The Persuasions - Fifth Ave Street Fair (Park Slope)

I found stage after set had started - saw them last year at Winter Garden singing Johnny Cash - sound here not really adequate to hear the full range of what was going on - may have been partially the sound or fact that this was their 2nd set of day, but the aging voices weren't as strong on the higher notes as they once were - still extremely powerful on the low end

Doowop meets deep soul - acapella's bad rep (in my mind, at least) stems from collegiate version, cheesy stuff, overly smooth stuff - Persuasions are as far from that as Glenn Gould is from Liberace, Coltrane's "Favorite Things" from Julie Andrews' - not to say that the Persuasions aren't entertainers as well as artists - Brooklyn natives and still residents

Set included "Chain Gang", "Precious Love", "Duke of Earl", "Sixty Minute Man", "Under the Boardwalk", Temptations medley - "Don't Look Back/Runaway Child, Running Wild/Cloud Nine", "Let It Be" as encore

Do yourself big favor - find Persuasions' version of Jackie Wilson's "To Be Loved" from Chirpin' album - I have draft of essay on this recording - may clean up and post and some point - power of human voice - soulsoulsoul

Closing Notes

To tie it all up, came across copy of Frisell's double History, Mystery at street fair vendor tent after seeing Persuasions - partially recorded live - Frisell's studio work sometimes makes his music seem tame - an impression you don't get live - haven't listened to Hist/Myst enough yet to write about - recommend the live trio record East/West - duo disc with Fred Hersch low-key and lovely - horn-and-Greg Leisz-driven Blues Dream also great, has some of BF's best compositions - want to hear duo with Jim Hall

Interesting - Frisell Trio to play tribute to Live at Massey Hall (the Neil Young concert, not the famous Parker-Gillespie-Powell-Mingus-Roach summit)

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