Today, let's examine a few of the many musical facets of guitarist Bill Frisell, who's coming to St. Louis to perform Thursday, May 12 at the Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St.
Usually categorized as a jazz guitarist, Frisell nevertheless has worked in a wide variety of styles while collaborating with musicians from many different backgrounds. In addition to releasing an album as a bandleader each year during his 30-year career, Frisell also has performed or recorded with an extensive roster of jazz, rock and pop artists including Paul Motian, John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Elvis Costello, Bono, T-Bone Burnett, Paul Simon, McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, Brian Eno and Ry Cooder.
His St. Louis show will feature the guitarist with two of his most frequent accompanists, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen, along with another longtime associate, trumpeter Ron Miles.
You can hear all four of them, along with saxophonist Greg Tardy, in the first video up above, a version of Lee Konitz' "Sub-Conscious Lee" recorded in 2006 in Salzau, Germany. Though Frisell's eclecticism occasionally may obscure the fact that he's a darned good guitarist in traditional jazz styles, his ability to spin out bop-style lines over a swinging beat is in full evidence here.
Down below, Frisell offers a take on the Philly soul sound with a version of the Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You" recorded with Scherr and Wollesen in 2007 in Rochester NY. Though it starts off with a straightforward groove and statement of the melody, by the end it becomes almost an abstract meditation on the notes of the song's chorus, thanks to Frisell's use of what seems to be a looping delay pedal.
Below that, there's a version of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall," recorded in 2002 in Italy by Frisell, Scherr, Wollesen, violinist Jenny Scheinman and percussionist Sidiki Camara. Finally, you can hear Frisell and the aforementioned Elvis Costello doing a spare duet version of "If I Only Had a Brain" - yes, the Yip Harburg/Harold Arlen song from The Wizard of Oz - taken from a 2009 episode of Costello's TV program Spectacle.