Frisell seems to be in a constantly evolving state of collaboration. Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers also includes Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums, and they bring a unique sound to Frisell's vision.
The band slowly built quiet melodies, adding soft texture to the rising and falling viola, with Frisell choosing his guitar lines carefully as the songs grew. Royston added subtle texture to the melody, while Frisell added dissonance. This is what defines Frisell's sound. He contrasts the melody with distorted lines, often achieved through clever use of multiple guitar pedals. Through the dissonance, one begins to recognize these tunes. Perhaps you can't put your finger on it, but you know what you're hearing is a very unique interpretation of a song you know well.
The performance took on a life of its own, with palatable energy growing by mid-set. Royston drove the rhythm as the ensemble took on a couple of blues songs. Most impressive was the role of Kang's viola as the band grooved through a blues number. He sharply attacked his instrument, occasionally plucking the strings to create an unlikely rhythm. The pace of the music reached its height, then gradually fell into the quiet peacefulness from which it started. For the encore, the Beautiful Dreamers performed a beautiful interpretation of the Beatles' "In My Life." This one was immediately recognizable, even though Frisell style was stamped all over it.
Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers left the crowd not just satisfied, but in a dreamlike state as patrons realize the Old Rock House is not just a place to get rowdy. It can also serve as a peaceful backdrop to one of the best and most unique jazz musicians of our time.
All photos by Joe O'Toole.