Barre Phillips FIMAV, Victoriaville QC, May 17

Barre Phillips FIMAV, Victoriaville QC, May 17
Photo: Martin Morissette
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Bassist Barre Phillips would not appreciate the mention of his age, though he referred to it obliquely in one of his between-piece addresses to the audience. Still, for a man in his eighth decade to consistently produce such sublime and vibrant music is definitely noteworthy.
 
For the first couple of improvisations, Phillips stuck to slightly more abstracted shapes, taking in the dimension of the room and his instrument. Then, from the third piece onward, he demonstrated what a lifetime of play can yield, switching between quietly bowed and richly overtone laden meditations to the rhythmic clattering of strings and the resonant instrument body. For his last pre-encore piece, Phillips even busted out an especially melodic and effortlessly musical piece that would feel at home as an interlude during a Radiohead concert.
 
Phillips frequently engaged the rapt audience, opining on what best describes his performances (neither "concert" nor "show," apparently) and how even now he was still a searcher for new musical elements. The latter must be a special challenge for someone in whose capable hands, the show concert solo performance felt so mastered and effortless despite the flow of invention each moment contained.