Live reviews

Bill Frisell Solo at Cadogan Hall

Bill Frisell Solo

(Cadogan Hall. 13 March 2022. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

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Bill Frisell. Publicity photo by  Monica Jane Frisell, 2019

“What the World Needs Now….” is – quite emphatically – more Bill Frisell. The gentleness, the bonhomie, the deeply civilised way of being…last night’s solo concert at Cadogan Hall was a sometimes poignant reminder of some of the values which were around in 1965 when the Burt Bacharach/ Hal David song saw the light of day, and are currently in permanent danger of going missing…

It was remarkable how the guitarist was able to establish a different character and atmosphere for each of the songs (full set lists below), but for me at least the most complete expression of Frisell’s patient craft came in his Billy Strayhorn medley. The way he navigated us through the verse and the song of “Lush Life” was completely spellbinding. Every contour and delightful stopping-off point on the way through was there to be savoured, almost tantrically. He would linger over some of the joyous voicings he was finding, then arabesque them and give them some extra gift-wrapping in the form of natural harmonics. Sheer delight.

This concert brought pindrop silence from the capacity audience (Are London spring audiences right now are the least bronchial ever? Discuss), and may be an early contender for gig of the year.

It certainly had the merch queue of the year afterwards. Was that partly the result of the subtlest, quietest, gentlest piece of product placement ever? Bill Frisell didn’t actually announce what the encore was. Nevertheless, “Beautiful Dreamer”, produced a massive snaking queue in the foyer for signed copies of the Faber biography of that name. Both the guitarist and the book’s author Philip Watson were happy to sign copies of the new book, and to provide a memento of this very special occasion.

SET LISTS (courtesy of Serious) : FIRST SET

Keep Your Eyes Open (Frisell)

Moon River (Mancini)

Poem for Eva (Frisell)

Strange Meeting (Frisell)

Valentine (Frisell)


Hard Times (Foster)

Come Sunday (Ellington)

Lotus Blossom (Strayhorn)

Lush Life (Strayhorn)

Pannonica (Monk)

Crepescule with Nellie (Monk)

You Only Live Twice (Barry)

What the World Needs Now is Love (Bacharach)

ENCORE: Beautiful Dreamer (Foster)

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LINKS: Interview with Philip Watson about “Beautiful Dreamer”

Jon Turney’s book review

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