Frisell doing “Shenandoah.” Totally badass.
Bill Frisell/Ron Carter/Paul Motian
Wednesday, January 7
Second show I’ve been to in 24 hours that prominently featured “You Are My Sunshine”; no offense to Glasvegas, but declarations of love are generally more appealing when they’re sweetly, softly hesitant rather than bombastic and overwrought. So Frisell’s guitar, Carter’s bass, and Motian’s drums all stutter and stammer a bit, fumbling for exactly the right tone until it dawns on you that a tone of expert, conspiratorial fumbling is exactly the right tone.
I mostly came here for Frisell — his “Shenandoah” kills me every time, saturated in luxurious pedal delay, every sliding note elegantly bent and pliant, as though his guitar neck is made of taffy. He initially drives most of the tunes on this occasional trio’s self-titled 2006 disc (See our own Tom Hull for bonus, far more detailed analysis, including his dismissal of the “overdone, overly obvious ‘You Are My Sunshine,'” oof). But Ron Carter, flaunting his astounding 50-year resume (Maiden Voyage! Miles Smiles! The Low End Theory!) is the mesmerizing one here, alternately brash and brittle, subtly rumbling underneath Frisell’s moody pedal theatrics or trading quick powerful jabs with Motian, whose solos are expertly disheveled, as though he has to hit specific drums in a specific combination to unlock a safe, has forgotten the combination, and is growing increasingly frustrated. Combined, all three have a casual, delicately melancholy rapport, incredibly quiet even at full power, perhaps in deference to children sleeping upstairs. At the moment I will take sunshine like this any way I can get it. They’re playing at the Blue Note through Sunday.