Although the Grammy-winning talents of Billy Childs, Kronos Quartet and Bill Frisell packed potential for chemistry, the energies tended to dissipate.
The intensity focused mid-evening with the pointy-booted Kronos, whose stand-alone segment brought industrial aspiration to the agitated "Aheym (Homeward)," by Bryce Dessner of the art-pop group the National.
The four bows stroked and slapped with familial elasticity, bringing out the composition's snap-back power and hypnotic magnetism. Frank Gehry's airy modern hall was built for this.
Childs' all-star quartet glowed with a Californian spirituality, the pianist's "Aaron's Song" and "Hope in the Face of Despair" owing as much to film music as to jazz. Despite the klezmer plaint of Steve Wilson's saxophones, the latter piece would have seemed little more than pondering puzzlement if Childs hadn't credited its inspiration to "Maus," Art Spiegelman's dark comix biography of his Auschwitz-survivor father.