Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Aug 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Uninhibited

music Bill FrisellGenre-bending guitarist Bill Frisell plays by his own rules

When the Monterey Jazz Festival commissioned legendary guitarist Bill Frisell to record an album that would premiere at the 2012 event, they wisely did not put any limitations on him.

“There weren’t any rules, really, they just asked me what I wanted to do,” Frisell says. “It was very wide open.”

No rules. Doing what he wanted. Very wide open. Anyone familiar with Frisell’s career knows he could very well be describing his entire discography with such statements. Though he is often called a jazz guitarist, over the course of three decades, he has released more than 30 albums ranging from jazz to Americana, from world music to film scores, and even recorded instrumental covers of classic John Lennon songs on 2011’s All We are Saying. His live shows regularly include spacey, off-kilter loops and a few shows have featured him providing the soundtrack to old Buster Keaton silent films.

Always thinking outside the box, Frisell’s aversion to labels is not surprising. “Labeling music in general makes me uncomfortable, whether it’s jazz, rock, anything,” he says. “I don’t like it when it gets boxed in that way, even with a title.”

It makes sense then that Big Sur—the collection of songs he ended up performing at last year’s Monterey Jazz Festival, before releasing it as a proper album this past June—is not meant to simply be 19 odes to the beauty of the Big Sur coastline. The earthy, Americana jazz track “A Beautiful View” and the somewhat dissonant strings on the title track hint at the majesty of the area, for sure, but titles like “Cry Alone” and “Far Away” remind listeners that the album is also comprised of weightier themes.

“The music is so much more abstract than the title,” Frisell says. “It’s not as though I am literally trying to describe that place with music. It’s hopefully something more open than that.”

For a man who has toured the world countless times and worked hard to turn people’s notions of what constitutes jazz music on its ear, there was something relaxing and freeing about writing this new material at Glen Deven Ranch. The experience offered a much-needed respite from Frisell’s busy life.

“The biggest thing is that [the commission] gave me a chance to get off the treadmill I’m on all the time,” Frisell laughs. “So much running around, constantly traveling and just the way the world has gotten with email and cell phones. You’re being bombarded with stuff every second, so to just stop all that for a minute and be by myself was incredible. The most unusual part was I was by myself 90 percent of the time, so going hours or days without saying a word to anyone, talking on the phone or looking at television or anything allowed the music to come out.”

Released from distractions and free to focus on the music, the magnificence of the area and the profundity of Frisell’s thoughts allowed him to make a striking and introspective record.

“[Music] is where I feel like I can really be myself,” says Frisell. “It’s the way I communicate. It’s a whole world I live in where everything makes sense. I’m much more uncomfortable trying to communicate [by speaking], and it seems that whenever I start playing, everything somehow works out so much better.”


Bill Frisell performs at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $27/adv, $30/door. For more information, call 427-2227. Photo: Jimmy Katz

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’

 

Say Uncle

Five types of kids, and how to be their best friend
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.