Having a favorite guitarist is almost as dumb as having a favorite food (though in a pinch I’d have to choose cheese…or chocolate…or a nice Malbec…doh!). But – with apologies to Nels Cline, Sonny Landreth, Jonny Greenwood, Derek Trucks – if I had to pick one from the last 20 years or so, it would be Bill Frisell.
Though he is most often described as a jazz guitarist, Frisell’s taste is so varied, and his roots so pure – and in some ways, so similar to my own – that he is the one guitarist I go see whenever I can. The only artist I’ve seen more than Bill is Springsteen, and Bill may have caught up in recent years.
I caught him last year at the Village Vanguard, and he’s playing Dec. 7 at Le Poison Rouge in the Village. I cannot recommend him highly enough. You never know quite what you’ll get with him – at Le Poison Rouge, he’s playing two shows with the Big Sur Quartet, which is new to me but features the remarkable Jenny Scheinman on violin – but here he is, with only his trusty Tele, playing from a memory of 50 years ago, the Beach Boys’ endlessly gorgeous “Surfer Girl.”
Le Poisson Rouge is at 158 Bleeker Street. Tickets are still available.