To the Auditorium a couple of nights ago, to hear Bill Frisell, and a wonderful evening it was. Completely different from the previous time I saw him in Rome; winter not summer, indoors not outdoors, small band not big band, different company. Still and all, entirely satisfying.
Almost every song was a Beatles song, though the event had not been billed as such. And several things struck me. One was quite how firmly those songs are embedded in my psyche. Not all the words, but enough of them. And enough of the tune to recognize it from minimal clues. At times I think it would be wonderful to reclaim all those synapses and connections and put them to a different (whoops: nearly said better) use. But on balance, no, I like having all that stuff buried deep down inside.
Another was how Bill and his companions (all kudos to Jenny Scheinman on violin and Greg Leisz on acoustic, dobro and lap steel) built the songs. It would be fair to describe the sound they made at times, usually at the beginning of a tune, as a cacophony. And I suspect that those averse to such things might say that any four-year old with an electric guitar could do the same. Just as any four-year old with a crayon could do Picasso. But of course, they could not. You have to be able to really draw to scribble. And you have to be able to really play to produce a cacophony out of which emerges, slowly and tantalisingly, in fits and starts, the few notes that identify the song for all time and fetch it up out of the psychical basement to be dusted off and taken for a walk.
I’m no musician, unlike, say Neddie, who can analyse this stuff till kingdom come. But the way that Frisell’s band takes the quintessential riff, those few notes that are Please please me, or My sweet Lord, or Imagine, or any of the others that I have alas already forgotten, and just works them over and over, like pure pop minimalism, is seriously good on the ears.
And on Sunday, Bob.