Friday, March 23, 2007

Riffing in the cathedral

From FP contributing blogger Bill Rehm. Thanks, Bill.

Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell helped get the 8th annual SF Jazz Spring Season off to a soaring start in his Friday night concert in Grace Cathedral atop of Russian Hill in downtown San Francisco. The festival, which takes place in nine different settings over a three month period, is known for its eclectic line-up, unusual concert venues, and wide-ranging jazz performances.

Audience members were advised in advance that there would be a seven-second delay in sound reverberation within the cathedral, and as Frisell walked out into the cavernous cathedral with its vaulted ceilings and an audience sitting on all four sides of the small center stage, he raised his eyes 200 feet upward and whispered, "This is far out."

Frisell said few other words during the 105-minute concert, letting his solo guitar performance to do all the talking. His distinctive sound showed an expansive range of styles, tone, and artistry — with long meandering riffs that had some of us remembering Jerry Garcia riffs from decades gone by. These longer improvisational meanderings were intermixed with a shorter acoustic stylings of songs from Bob Dylan and Tony Bennett.

It was one of the most unusual and memorable concerts I've ever attended, with Bill Frisell's acoustic guitar and Grace Cathedral's acoustic sound teaming up to leave us mesmerized, tantalized, and wanting more.

SF Jazz continues in April with upcoming concerts by Dianne Reeves, Anoushka Shankar, Ben Riley Monk Legacy Band, Freddie Cole and the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

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