“It’s hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell,” The New York Times wrote in 1991. In the ensuing decades the guitarist and composer has lived up to that praise time and time again with a disarming grace that belies his creative restlessness.
In 2019, the Denver East High School graduate is recognized as a master guitarist and composer with a knack for drawing the best musical talent to him, and then heightening their already explosive abilities.
With this in mind, in 2016 roots music organization FreshGrass commissioned a work from Bill that would reflect their mission to “preserve and support innovative grassroots music.” For the new project, Bill created a new quartet he called Harmony.
Harmony features Petra Haden on vocals, Hank Roberts on cello and voice, and Luke Bergman on baritone guitar and voice. They debuted at FreshGrass Premiere at the Strand Theater in San Francisco in November 2016, where they performed “a sprawling and evocative trip through the landscape of American music of the last century.”
The quartet’s ethereal and inviting soundscapes could quickly turn into something unsettling. Then, as if to toy with the audience, they transitioned into something warm and familiar, delivering a suite of music capable of supporting a wide and intense range of emotions.
At the same performance, Bill and Petra teamed up for a rendition of the folk standard “Shenandoah.” Here they summoned something glistening with melancholy that landed somewhere between jazz and folk, bringing new depth to the timeless song.
Swallow Hill is honored to present Bill Frisell: Harmony featuring Petra Haden, Hank Roberts & Luke Bergman at the First Baptist Church on Sunday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this concert are on sale now.