For guitarist/composer Bill Frisell, the acclaim has come pouring from all sides. Not only do esteemed jazzmen such as Julius Hemphill, John Zorn, Paul Motian, Ginger Baker and David Sanborn look up to him as a valued collaborator, but lately renegade producers and rock icons such as Hal Wilner, Marianne Faithful and Elvis Costello have come to depend on his imaginative touch to enliven their own experimental projects.
Why? Because Frisell is a musician's musician, deeply rooted in the jazz tradition ("No Moe"), but with an uncanny ear for texture and a rhythmic drive which is equal parts blues, rock and psychedelia (the Chuck Berry-like trashorama on "Crumb"), with an overlay of southwestern Americana and country ("Have A Little Faith In Me"). LIVE documents the work of the Bill Frisell Trio at the peak of their expressive powers, recorded in concert before an ecstatic audience in Sevilla, Spain...where they know from guitarists.
From the opening strains of "Throughout," Frisell's method is clear: over the waltzing, minimalistic backbeat of Driscoll and Baron, the guitarist unwinds spare sheets of reverberant chords and tape loops. His calliope-like melody goes through multiple transformations, from countryish slurs to screaming blues asides worthy of Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana. On "Rag," he illustrates his gift for evocative chordal voicings, as Driscoll's woody bass punctuations and Baron's spasmodic percussive asides turn this waltz into a humorous circus of sounds.
A rollicking theme like "Pip, Squeak" is equal parts western swing and free jazz, and the trio's ability to juggle multiple moods and tempos transforms "Hello Nellie" from a moody ballad, to syncopated free-for-all, to barnyard boogie. Such fanciful leaps of imagination mark each improvisation, from odd rhythmic cycles of "Hangdog" to the climactic Hendrixian calypso-cum-Stones rave-up of "When We Go." LIVE is an evocative, original, joyous recital.