***Update***Here is the link to a free download of the show thanks to taper Mac Daddy. Bill Frisell, Matt Chamberlain & Jon Brion 5/30/12, Mint LA
Matt Chamberlain’s Residency at The Mint in Los Angeles came to a close last night with a grand finale that was a site to behold and above all else listen to. Over the month of May, Chamberlain brought his engaging drum style to the Mint with a different all-star lineup each Wednesday. Last night he was joined by guitar legend Bill Frisell, and with an announcement just hours before showtime, Jon Brion. Brion is better known for his work on film scores, frequently working with director PT Anderson. He contributed to Boogie Nights and even won Grammies for ‘Magnolia’ and Spike Jonze’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.’ Bill Frisell should need no introduction. He is regarded as one of the best guitarists breathing.
The three session musicians played two sets of improv that had the entire SOLD OUT room captivated from the first note. It was easily the best show I’ve ever seen at the venue and I’m not alone in saying that as a few friends echoed the same as we exited onto Pico Blvd.
It sounds trite, but the three bended notes and layered their music in ways I never thought possible in that room. There were just three of them on stage but at times it sounded like six. For most of the performance, Chamberlain and Frisell held it down with abstract jazz interplay while Brion layered his notes over them, creating a rock vibe I hadn’t heard in his arsenal of sounds. His frequent sets at the Largo on Fridays are much more subdued and lounge-y than what we witnessed last night. The grooves were patient at first, easily blending in with the surroundings of a small club, but just as quick, the music would shift to a head bobbing groove that could have filled most arenas. Brion rocking back and forth evoking smiles from Frisell as he held it down, sounding more like bass fills than guitar. At times during the performance I got a little selfish, knowing this would probably be the only time I ever get to see these three in this setting. A damn shame! I heard more gutsy improv last night between Frisell, Chamberlain and Brion than I will on an entire tour with Anastasio, Gordon, McConnell and Fishman. Tear.
I can try to explain what I heard last night but it would do the music a severe injustice. There’s really no description as it crossed all genres…Avant-garde, Rock, Pop, Psych-Jazz. I’ll just wait for the recordings (Yes, there were tapers!) to surface and update this post with the links for your listening pleasure. I can’t wait to revisit some of the interplay between the three. When you thought a song was winding down, Chamberlain would bring it full circle and continue the adventure for a few more minutes. At times Frisell seemed to be playing bass lines while Brion crept in with pop-rock guitar giving the audience something to latch onto and nod their head along with Frisell in absolute approval.
In between songs you could tell the three were loose yet controlled on what they wanted to play. Chamberlain usually starting the tunes off slowly with an abstract beat. Brion would somewhat mimic that sound then take it to new heights and bend it into a song or tease you thought you had heard before but most likely haven’t. Frisell and Brion never dueled, it was a complete partnership. If that’s the kind of music than unfolds when those three get in a room together, thank goodness they don’t tour on a nightly basis because I’d have to quit my job and see/hear every note of it. Let’s just call it a dream team of jazz.
Here are the rest of my photos from the night :
A quick note on behalf of The Mint and those in the LA area. Taking a look at their concert calendar for the rest of the summer, the venue is looking to highlight Wednesdays for the forseeable future with acts like we saw last night. Next Wednesday they welcome organ aficiando Robert Walter for another month long residency, the first of which includes drummer Joe Russo. LMB’s PeteLikesMusic will be on hand to cover that show, so be on the lookout for that. To round out the month, Reed Mathis will join Walter on June 20th, and then on June 27th, drummer Stanton Moore closes out the residency with Walter. The Mint looks like the place to be on Wednesdays this summer.