The Music of Bill Frisell
Arranged for Orchestra and Conducted by Mike Gibbs
Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Bill Frisell and Joey Baron at
The Barbican in London â€“ 11/10/09
December 16, 2009
By Josef Woodward
The Frisell collaboration, entitled Collage for a Day, opened with long-drawn, tensely voiced strings climaxing in a single chord and the guitaristâ€™s first phrase, a down-sloping, backwater blues. For the next hour,
Frisell drew on country reels and barn-dance waltzes, ragged marches and fractured improv. Stark, resonant and laden with unresolved tension, Frisellâ€™s piece was steeped in a sense that something important has been lost, in contrast with Ivesâ€™s polyphonic New World optimism.
Gibbsâ€™s arrangements wove the orchestra in and round Frisellâ€™s lead, providing majestic support, textural embellishment and melodic statement. A lone trumpet emerged from the guitarâ€™s fuzz-box harmony; an orchestral climax dissolved into a duet between Frisell and free-spirit drummer Joey Baron, only to re-emerge as vigorous strings; a final orchestral flourish zipped over elliptic western swing; two violas delivered heartbreak melody. The richly deserved encore was a subdued string-supported ballad that ended with Frisellâ€™s solitary bottleneck slide.