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Bill Frisell brings Harmony to the Dakota

Bill Frisell
Photo: Monica Frisell

Guitar ace Bill Frisell brought his latest project to the Dakota on Monday night. Dubbed “Harmony,” the show saw Frisell collaborating with Petra Haden, Hank Roberts and Luke Bergman. Drawing largely from the quartet’s album of the same name, the set lived up to its name with interesting, complex and beautiful harmonies abounding. Some of these were vocal (All but Frisell sang), and some purely instrumental. The result was an engaging, often spellbinding set that made excellent use of the intimate space.

All of this was anchored by Frisell. Living up to his revered status, Frisell was, in a word, excellent. His playing was subtle and sublime, and stood out for how well it complemented the playing of the other musicians. Though many of his releases could be classified as Jazz, Frisell is no stranger to experimentation and genre-bending. That showed through in the group’s playing, which drew from jazz but also touched on Americana and roots music. Those sounds and styles are not unfamiliar to the always-evolving Frisell, who has been exploring that terrain for some time.

However you define it, the music was beautiful. Haden’s understated vocals were excellent. She had the stylistic dexterity that the music demanded, and her vocal interplay with Frisell, Bergman, and Roberts was top notch. Roberts and Bergman complemented the sound as well. The former played cello, which was an interesting and effective addition to the mix considering the styles the group was playing. Some of his best work came on “Deep Dead Blue,” a standout from the album.

The Quartet’s chemistry showed through on album highlights like “Hard times” and “Everywhere” while an interesting (and gorgeous) reworking of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” showed off how versatile they could be.

The set’s best moments were stunning and plentiful. Hearing the quartet live lived up to the considerable reputation of the artists involved.

Written by Aaron Williams

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