July 31, 2011
@Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford University
Better than:Picnicking in a lush meadow on Mars.
Bill Frisell stood timidly in front of the microphone, telling the crowd how his band tonight, the 858 Quartet, hadn't played together since recording an album last October. “I have no idea what's gonna happen,” he said. “We'll find out in a second.”
Humility is not a common trait for living legends like Frisell, but from the very beginning of last night's set at Stanford's Dinkelspiel Auditorium, it was a staple of the man, his music, and his group, which consisted of Frisell on guitar, Jenny Scheinman on violin, Hank Roberts on cello, and Eyvind Kang on viola.
Frisell's quartet shaped its sound not through virtuosic solos or jawdropping technique, but through an ability to craft superbly subtle songs and then — prepared or not — channel them songs into lush, dynamic sonic journeys.