Live Jazz: Bill Frisell at a UCLA Live concert in Royce Hall

By Tony Gieske

I never thought I would be bored at a Bill Frisell concert, but that is what happened to me at Royce Hall on Saturday night.

Bill Frisell

I was looking forward to a rich evening of fully developed playing by Frisell, one of a handful of electric guitar players worth hearing (others being, to name names, Kenny Burrell, Kevin Eubanks, Phil Upchurch or Jim Hall), and instead we got background music for some decidedly non-entertaining film clips.

Call me New Ageist, but I get nothing from Buster Keaton. There might be something to be said for watching him fall off roofs and out of windows and under railroad  trains. But even with precisely targeted rim shots from Kenny Wollesen, a John Zorn veteran, I never laughed.

OK, the one about the Blinking Buzzards gang had its moments. Not too many.

The Frisell accompaniment, despite the gorgeous sound he got from his instrument, seemed forced and contrived. You could see him reading from a score. Heavens!

Electric bassist Tony Scherr could not get the boomy notes to stop once he hit them, so that four beats in a bar — oh, they had a few those –came out like a bumpy slur.

Some might say the same about this review, but I wouldn’t mind.

Photo by Tony Gieske.  To read and see more of Tony’s essays and photos at his personal web site click HERE.


2 thoughts on “Live Jazz: Bill Frisell at a UCLA Live concert in Royce Hall

  1. While Tony Gieske may be the best jazz writer in Los
    Angeles, he is so wrong about Buster Keaton it makes my teeth hurt. Keaton is one of the great geniuses of American film. Plus he was funny. Or as Buster himself said in The Navigator–well, he didn’t say, it was a silent movie. But he would have.

    So there.


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