Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bill Frisell - Blues Dream Live (Image, 2009)

Recorded live at the 2002 Montreal Jazz Festival, this DVD shows guitarist and composer Bill Frisell performing work from his 2001 album Blues Dream and other music, accompanied by Matt Chamberlain on drums, Billy Drewes on alto saxophone, Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, Greg Leisz on steel guitars and mandolin, Ron Miles on trumpet and David Piltch on bass. The group is tight and responsive and much of the music flows out on mini-medleys of two or three songs at a time and everybody makes their marks each time. There are three episodes of collective improvisation during the first half of the concert which are interesting to watch as the group moves away from the tightly scripted Frisell themes into their own unique version of free jazz. Leisz's steel guitar adds a unique sound to the group and adds an "Americana" flavor to the music, especially on the winsome version of Hank Williams "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" which has weeping steel guitar setting the mood for the rest of the band to follow. Frisell is great throughout this DVD, playing a colorful guitar filled with cartoons, and he's quite the character himself, with his shock of graying hair and wry smile, prowling the stage, and adjusting various effects pedals. He digs deep to make a stinging solo on "Blues for Los Angeles," and uses different effects and sound manipulators on the quirky "Egg Radio." This was a very well made DVD, with several differerent cameras and angles cutting and swaying from long shots of the band and the audience to tight in close ups of soloing musicians. This was a classy production the whole way through and caught the musicians during an inspired performance. Blues Dream Live -

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