TO Jazz Review: Bill Frisell, June 26, Enwave Theatre

The Enwave Theatre at the Harbourfront is one of my favourite venues in the city. It’s a 400-seater that offers great sight lines throughout, an intimate setting, and amazing acoustics. In truth, it doesn’t feel like the jazz festival until I’ve seen a show here. Thankfully I had the opportunity to catch master guitarist Bill Frisell and his band play music from their 2011 album All We Are Saying. In this latest effort, they re-interpret the music of John Lennon.

 [Listening to Bill Frisell play Beatles tunes] is like riding a cloud while playing a jovial game of chess with a unicorn.

Bill Frisell is a guitarist like no other. Calling what he does “jazz guitar” doesn’t really describe his music. True, it’s improvisation, but it doesn’t necessarily fall into the established guidelines of jazz improvisation. He also draws upon elements of rock, blues, and the American songbook, but fusion summons the wrong connotations. The music Bill creates is uniquely his own; ephemeral at times and substantially soulful at others.

In all cases, hearing him live is an adventure that takes you to interesting places. Listening to Bill Frisell play live is like taking a ride on a cloud; all airy and expansive. Listening to him play Beatles tunes is like riding a cloud while playing a jovial game of chess with a unicorn, and the unicorn is letting you win. Also, there’s cotton candy. Crowd favourites like Come Together would slowly surface from the mists of consciousness and then materialize in full force. The encore included a beautiful rendition of Strawberry Fields Forever with the entire band firing on all cylinders. This was not a hard day’s night.

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival