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Bill Frisell, Not-So-Unplugged at Grace Cathedral / San Francisco Classical Voice

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I came upon Bill Frisell more than 15 years ago, when I was still a teenager; the minimalist, slightly Rothko-esque cover of his second ECM release, In Line, beckoned to me from the "Guitar" bin of some Borders, Tower, or similarly defunct record store. As a young guitarist I was immediately smitten by his ethereal tone; his careful, always vocal phrasing; his effectiveness as a soloist without the need to rely on a gazillion notes. 

It's been a challenge to keep up with Frisell, whose music  encompasses the near totality of American vernacular and experimental styles, from his early work as a guitarist for John Zorn's Spillane and Godard, to the recent reimagining of 50s and 60s rock and surf hits on Guitar in the Space Age.

Yet no matter the idiom or genre, Frisell's personality always shines through, his sapient fingers acting as the perfect filter through which to shine new light on disparate corner of the repertoire. His Friday, September 18, solo concert at Grace Cathedral - an appropriately reverberant setting - was practically a master class in idiomatic fluency and improvisatory prowess, a wonderfully quasi-private opportunity to sneak a peek into the arranger's and guitarist's mind. With nowhere to hide, and no-one with whom to collaborate, all we got was pure, unadulterated Frisell: And what a treat it was.

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