Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell

Infobox musical artist
Name = Bill Frisell

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Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = William Richard Frisell
Alias =
Born = March 18, 1951
Baltimore, Maryland
Died =
Instrument = Guitar
Voice_type =
Genre = Jazz
Occupation = Guitarist
Years_active =
Label =
Associated_acts =
URL = [ Official website]
Notable_instruments = Fender Telecaster

William Richard "Bill" Frisell (born March 18, 1951) is an American guitarist and composer.

One of the leading guitarists in jazz since the late '80s Frisell's eclectic music touches on progressive folk, classical music, country music, noise and more. He is known for using an array of effects (delay, distortion, reverb, octave shifters, and volume pedals, to name a few) to create unique sounds from his instrument.


Early life and career

Frisell was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but spent most of his youth in the Denver, Colorado area. He played clarinet as a youth, and went to the University of Northern Colorado to study music.

His original guitar teacher in the Denver area was Dale Bruning, with whom Frisell released the 2000 duo album "Reunion". After graduating from Northern Colorado, where he studied with Johnny Smith, Frisell went to the Berklee School of Music in Boston and studied with Jim Hall.

The ECM Records years

Frisell's major break came when guitarist Pat Metheny was unable to make a recording session, and recommended Frisell to Paul Motian who was recording "Psalm" (1982) for ECM Records [Jung, F. [ A Fireside Chat with Paul Motian] . "Jazz Weekly"] . Frisell became ECM's in-house guitar player, and worked on several albums, most notably Jan Garbarek's 1981 "Paths, Prints". Frisell's first solo release was "In Line" featured solo guitar and duets with from bassist Arild Andersen.

New York City era

Frisell's first group to receive much acclaim was a quartet with Kermit Driscoll on bass, Joey Baron on drums, and Hank Roberts on cello (later slimmed down to a trio when Roberts left). Many other albums with larger ensembles were recorded with this group as the core.

In the 1980s Frisell lived in New York City and was an active participant in the city's music scene. He forged an early partnership with John Zorn—including as a member of quick-change band Naked City—and performed or recorded with many others. He also became known for his work in drummer Paul Motian's trio, along with saxophonist Joe Lovano.

The Seattle Years

In 1988 Frisell left New York City and moved to Seattle, Washington. [Seven, R. (2001) [ The Sound of One Man Dreaming] . "Pacific Northwest Magazine".] In the early 1990s Frisell made two of his most celebratedFact|date=June 2008 albums: first, "Have a Little Faith", an ambitious survey of Americana of all stripes, from Charles Ives and Aaron Copland (the entirety of "Billy the Kid") to John Hiatt (the title song), Bob Dylan ("Just Like A Woman") and Madonna (a lengthy, psychedelic rock-tinged version of "Live to Tell"); and second, "This Land", a complementary set of originals. He also branched out by performing soundtracks to silent films of Buster Keaton with his trio, and contributed to Ryuichi Sakamoto's album "Heartbeat".

In the mid-1990s, Frisell disbanded his trio. He continued the trend marked by "Have a Little Faith" by more explicitly incorporating elements of bluegrass and country music into his music. His friendship with Gary Larson led him to provide music for the TV version of "The Far Side" [ [ Bill Frisell Biography] ] (released on the album "Quartet" along with music written for Keaton's "Convict 13").


Several of Frisell's songs, including "Over the Rainbow" and "Coffaro's Theme", were featured in the movie "Finding Forrester" (2000).

In 1999, Frisell was commissioned by the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota to compose "Blues Dream", which he premiered on November 15, 1999. He later recorded the work for a 2001 release on Nonesuch.

Also in 1999, he released "The Sweetest Punch" which featured a seven-piece jazz ensemble reworking the tunes written and recorded by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach on "Painted from Memory". [ The Sweetest Punch: Songs of Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach] "Rolling Stone" review.]

Between 2003 and 2005 Frisell acted as musical director for Century of Song, a series of concerts at the German arts festival RuhrTriennale (produced by Lee Townsend). Frisell invited artists including Rickie Lee Jones, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Arto Lindsay, Loudon Wainwright III, Vic Chesnutt, Van Dyke Parks, Buddy Miller, Ron Sexsmith and Chip Taylor to perform their favorite songs in new arrangements.

In 2003, Frisell's "The Intercontinentals" was nominated for a Grammy award; he won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his album "Unspeakable".

Frisell made a guest appearance on Earth's 2008 album, "The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull". He also wrote the music for Ruby Yang's documentary film "Tongzhi in Love" (2008).


TV appearances

*"SOLOS: the jazz sessions" (2004) Bravo! Canada


*Zorn, John, ed. (2000). "Arcana: Musicians on Music". New York: Granary Books/Hips Road. ISBN 188712327X.

External links

* [ Equipment]
* [ Official site]
* [ Bill Frisell Biography (via Jazz CDs)]
* [ The Bill Frisell Discography]
* [ Bill Frisell Solo Transcriptions]
* [ Live performance images]
* [ The Bill Frisell Compositions database]
* [ Recent concert review of Bill Frisell at]
* [ 2003 Afropop Worldwide Interview with Bill Frisell]
* [ 2008 State of Mind Music Conversation with Bill Frisell]
* [ Bill Frisell at NPR Music]

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