Music

A meeting of musical minds

Versatile guitar duo Bill Frisell and Julian Lage live in concert at TCA

By Tempo staff
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/4/19

They may be "many generations apart in age," but guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage connect in ways any listener will appreciate, according to Judy Katzman of the Taos Jazz Bebop Society. Audiences will have a chance to hear this masterful duo in concert Saturday (Dec. 7), 7:30 p.m., at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

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Music

A meeting of musical minds

Versatile guitar duo Bill Frisell and Julian Lage live in concert at TCA

Posted

They may be "many generations apart in age," but guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage connect in ways any listener will appreciate, according to Judy Katzman of the Taos Jazz Bebop Society. Audiences will have a chance to hear this masterful duo in concert Saturday (Dec. 7), 7:30 p.m., at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

"Both are phenomenal guitarists with effortless technique and incredibly creative musical minds," Katzman continues. "They can do whatever they want on their instruments and both seem to have arrived at similar places musically right now. Both seem to have fallen in love with the whole spectrum of American music -- from jazz tunes to pop, Country, rock and movie music -- and are freely creating with all those genres in fascinating, surprising, exciting ways."

This show keeps the vibe rolling for the Taos Jazz Bebop Society, having just hosted the Frank Morgan Taos Jazz Festival Nov. 20-23. "This duo is going to amaze us," Katzman adds. "We are thrilled to be able to partner with TCA for this really special night."

Musical expression

Described as being at "the very epicenter of modern American Music" by the BBC, Frisell's career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 40 years and 300 recordings, including 50 celebrated albums of his own. Frisell's output spans a wide range of musical expression.

Over the years, Frisell has contributed to the work of such collaborators as Elvis Costello, Ginger Baker, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright III, Van Dyke Parks, Rickie Lee Jones, Marianne Faithful, film director Gus Van Sant, David Sanborn and numerous others, including Bono, Brian Eno, Jon Hassell and Daniel Lanois on the soundtrack for Wim Wenders' film "Million Dollar Hotel."

Born in Baltimore, Frisell played clarinet throughout his childhood in Denver, Colorado. His interest in guitar began with his exposure to pop music on the radio. Later, he studied music at the University of Northern Colorado before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied with John Damian, Herb Pomeroy and Michael Gibbs. In 1978, Frisell moved for a year to Belgium where he concentrated on writing music. In this period, he toured with Michael Gibbs and first recorded with German bassist Eberhard Weber. Frisell moved to the New York City area in 1979 and stayed until 1989. He now lives in Seattle.

Stereophile notes, "For over 10 years Bill Frisell has quietly been the most brilliant and unique voice to come along in jazz guitar since Wes Montgomery. In light of this, it may be easy to overlook the fact that he may also be one of the most promising composers of American music on the current scene."

Spin adds, "Bill Frisell is the Clark Kent of the electric guitar. Soft-spoken and self-effacing in conversation, he apparently breathes in lungfuls of raw fire when he straps on his (guitar) … His music is not what is typically called jazz, though it turns on improvisation; it's not rock 'n' roll; and it sure ain't that tired dinosaur called fusion. In one of the biggest leaps of imagination since the Yardbirds and Jimi Hendrix, Frisell coaxes and slams his hovering split-toned ax into shapes of things to come … But besides being a guitar genius, he's turned into a terrific songwriter."

Wide range of sounds and genres

Although in his 30s, the New York-based musician boasts a long, prolific résumé as sideman (alongside such icons as Gary Burton and John Zorn), duo partner (with Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge and Fred Hersch, among others), and as soloist and bandleader. "Love Hurts" - which marks Lage's third Mack Avenue LP recorded with a trio, and his first to feature bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus) - sees the Grammy-nominated guitarist exploring the American song catalog from a truly unique vantage point, performing music written by a range of audacious and original artists, from Roy Orbison to Ornette Coleman, Jimmy Giuffre to Peter Ivers.

Lage and his rhythm section build upon the wandering sonic outlook of his previous LPs, further impelling his defining amalgam of jazz fusion, jam band liberation, standards, and embryonic rock 'n' roll with virtuosic precision, adventurous improvisation and a remarkably clear vision.

"For me, this recording completes a trilogy of approaches to the trio," said Lage on the website redlightmanagement.com. "They're all similar but illuminate different fascinations … The connection we were trying to draw was between this effusive era of Keith Jarrett's music and all the tributaries that go away from or lead to it, and then mixing that with music like Roy Orbison, this early rock 'n' roll that was also kind of effusive, rich and heartbreaking. We were looking at it as couplets, so we could very casually say, yeah we're doing 'Love Hurts' and we're doing 'The Windup' in the same breath and for it to feel genuine or native. That's what we were excited about. It didn't feel like we were making a sampler, it has a narrative."

No matter the composer, at the very heart of "Love Hurts" is Lage's lifelong zeal for pure group improvisation, an abstract interactivity that long fueled his work but until now has not yet been fully embodied in his recorded output.

"Love Hurts" was released Feb. 22 on Mack Avenue Records. For more on Julian Lage, visit JulianLage.com

Absolute thrill

Taos Center for the Arts Executive Director Colette LaBouff said in an announcement, "It is an absolute thrill to have Frisell and Lage -- two extraordinarily remarkable and world-renowned musicians -- on the stage together at the TCA and right here in Taos. And the TCA is really glad to be collaborating with the Taos Jazz Bebop Society to make it happen."

This meeting of the minds of two guitar masters promises to be a night to remember.

"In conjunction with this event, The Blake at Taos Ski Valley is offering a lodging package including tickets to Bill Frisell and Julian Lage Duo evening, a discount room and transportation to and from TCA for the performance to allow you to make a memorable weekend out of this extraordinary performance," according to a press release.

This event is supported by The Blake at Taos Ski Valley and Don Fernando de Taos Hotel.

Tickets are $45, $40 for Taos Center for the Arts and Taos Jazz Bebop Society members. They are available online or at the auditorium box office. Members will need to purchase tickets at the box office in order to receive member discounts.

To receive The Blake promotional package, purchase tickets directly from The Blake.

Doors will open 6:30 p.m. the evening of the show. For more information about this event, email Colette LaBouff at colette@tcataos.org.

For more about Taos Center for the Arts, contact Gina Gargone at gina@tcataos.org or (575) 758-2052.

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