Today's Memory

Bill FrissellBill Frissell
The 2007 Rochester International Jazz Fest had moments that still resonate. Times I actually remember thinking how glad I was to be right there, right then, listening.

It's not a stretch in any way to link Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams, other than Bob has a different last name. Two of the finest, if not the finest songwriters to grace our culture, and one not far behind, slightly more hidden, just as emotionally rich, and from a female perspective.

Still when Bill Frissell opened his show last year at Kilbourn Hall stringing together I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Valley of Tears, and Masters of War, each one was a surprise. His lush, long notes filling the hall, hanging in the air until replaced by the next.

Bill Frissell, bassBill Frissell, bassThematically there could be angles of connection in the literal sense, but it didn't seem to be the point. The image of Dylan, Williams and Williams without words, their songs brought to life together in one sequence had a mesmerizing effect.

All the emotion and anger, joy and despair, quiet and rage, fused in those songs, had an unconscious effect. Well, maybe not joy. Something about the voice of the writer. Being true to themselves. All the depth and simplicity.

I remember feeling as if Bill Frissell had allowed us into his brain that night and led us to songs, writers he felt were important at that moment, in Bill FrissellBill Frissellthe world in the hall that night.

It was the surprise and the beauty of an unexpected medley that was my introduction to Bill Frissell. One I won't soon forget.

Later on that summer, I saw Lucinda Williams at the Armory where she fittingly paid tribute to her opening act, Charlie Louvin. Bill Frissell would have enjoyed that moment too, I imagine.

Perhaps he'll add "Great Atomic Power" to his next medley.

For more on the 2007 RIJF follow the link below.
Click on last year's Jazz Pass.



Bill Frisell is the best!

I know I said Cassandra is the best (repsonding to Brenda's recent post), but you've reminded me that it must really be Bill. Both artists can find new routes to the emotional center of a song, but Bill does it without words! Whether it's Shenandoah or Madonna's Live to Tell or The Delfonics La La Means I Love You, the man grabs hold and makes you feel something. Last year Spevak admitted that Bill made him cry. Might've sounded odd to some, but I knew just what he meant.