Thursday, November 01, 2007

Carving Melodic Lines Along a String Trio

Bill Frisell's Disfarmer Trio @ An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bill Frisell: guitars, effects, loops
Greg Leisz: lap steel guitar
Jenny Scheinman: violin

Bill Frisell has a way of filling a room with sound (and packed venues). And while he was using far more effects than I'd seen him use in the past he still occupies a focal point with understatement and restraint. Not to mention his usual awe inspiring musicianship. It's takes a rare talent to make ring modulated bluegrass lines sound so introspective and natural.

Frisell's approach toward melody continues to fascinate my ears. At times the melodic line is barely a whisper within the soft haze of loops and improvised phrases that swirl in a tight orbit around the core melody. There are moments of surprising familiarity, such as "When You Wish Upon A Star" begins to float to the surface, detected by the ears just ahead of its clearest articulations. Sometimes the melody feels like the framework for the sound, at other times it is just the opposite. Either way the sound is incredible with enormous pull through its earthy tone and surprising arrangements.

Greg Leisz and Jenny Scheinman make excellent partners for the Americana sound that Frisell has been mining for some time now. The deliberate strokes and intriguing amplified sound from Scheinman carve a rich territory drawing from jazz and bluegrass traditions while Leisz is an impressive force on the lap steel guitar. (I hope Scheinman brings one of her bands back to An Die Musik sometime soon as she's been actively recording and touring with her own music recently.) The first set featured Frisell's looping textures, some blues and hints of Appalachia while the second set lurched into material from Frisell's The Intercontinentals - a recording that all three of these musicians were part of - followed by a pair of encores. The haze of sound from "Your Cheatin' Heart" seemed to linger as the large crowd shuffled from the hall. To be engulfed in this wonderful sound in such a small, comfortable venue is an experience to savor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hello. I was at this show and found it mesmerizing. Nice to stumble across your blog. Jenny and I share a last name, so we had a wonderful conversation afterward. She is certainly an in-demand player (just like the other two) and I think they all have displayed tremendous range and versatility. Their playing is identifiable, but part of their greatness is an ability and willingness to not dominate another's project (like a few certain producers and other musicians that come to mind) -- signs of taste, high musicianship and class.