Bill Frisell performs at the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival. <br>photo ©Brett Delmage, 2007
Bill Frisell performs at the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2007

When Bill Frisell performs two concerts at the 2010 Ottawa Jazz Festival, it will only be his third time at the jazz festival.

However, he has been in Ottawa regularly, just at many other venues:

  • July, 1989: Ottawa Jazz Festival (National Gallery auditorium)
  • July, 1993: Cultures Canada Festival (National Gallery auditorium)
    August, 1999: Barrymore's
  • May, 2001: Tulip Festival (Major's Hill Park)
  • July, 2005: Bluesfest (as part of the Steel Summit)
  • June, 2007: Ottawa Jazz Festival (special Pass-Plus concert at the National Library auditorium)

Frisell's favourite touring combination to Ottawa has been  a trio with bass and drums, but both of his 2010 appearances will feature different combinations. On June 25, he will play with his Beautiful Dreamers trio, featuring Eyvind Kang on viola, and Frisell's regular drummer, Rudy Royston (who was here in 2007).

On June 26, he will present his 858 Quartet, with Hank Roberts on cello, Eyvind Kang on viola, and Jenny Scheinman on violin. This echoes Frisell's 1989 Festival appearance, where his quartet also included Roberts on cello. Frisell played with Scheinman on his recent albums All Hat and Disfarmer, and with all three (Roberts, Kang, and Scheinman) on his 2009 Grammy-nominated album, History, Mystery.

Frisell's appearances are part of a new Festival series: the Friends series, in which musicians have been invited to perform multiple concerts with artists of their choice. He should be used to this format: in 1997, he took part in the Montreal Jazz Festival's Invitation series, in which he played for four consecutive nights in a variety of combos with artists of his own choosing.

In any case, expect the unexpected. Frisell's musical tastes range from bluegrass to rock to Aaron Copland, and his 2007 concert went from ear-blasting feedback to thoughtful solo guitar. And don't expect explanations: in 2007, he played almost non-stop and said nothing about any of the pieces. But the audience had lots of fun trying to figure out exactly what he was doing with the array of sound effect gadgets spread out on a stool beside him.

– Alayne McGregor