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There have been moments in Frisell's career where he may have been the most startlingly original guitarist in jazz; on this night, he sounded like Jerry Garcia on Thorazine. The concert began with 10 minutes of Frisell triggering birdcall loops. He'd step on a pedal and you'd hear robin's chirping; a minute later, another pedal, different bird songs; you get the picture. It would have been a ballsy way to begin the set had the rest of the show not been so meandering.

Part of the problem was the absence of a bass player: with no one laying down a foundation, Frisell's oblique harmonies never settled into a groove. There were moments, of course, that transcended that limitation -- but not enough moments.

Pianist Jason Moran, who can carry a show on his own, wasn't given enough to do. Likewise, the always-creative drummer Kenny Wolleson. It's hard to believe that these three musicians could even be boring. They can. They played one off-kilter blues number and one weird version of Monk's "Mysterioso" that were exciting. Unfortunately, their languid encore of "Beautiful Dreamer" was too typical.

  • Concert: Bill Frisell Trio
  • Date: April 14
  • Venue: Anthology
  • Seats: front row, balcony
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