Bill Frisell

Born: March 18, 1951    Primary Instrument: Guitar

Bill Frisell

Born in Baltimore, Bill Frisell played clarinet throughout his childhood in Denver, Colorado. His interest in guitar began with his exposure to pop music on the radio. Soon, the Chicago Blues became a passion through the work of Otis Rush, B.B. King, Paul Butterfield and Buddy Guy. In high school, he played in bands covering pop and soul classics, James Brown and other dance material. Later, Bill studied music at the University of Northern Colorado before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied with John Damian, Herb Pomeroy and Michael Gibbs. In 1978, Frisell moved for a year to Belgium where he concentrated on writing music. In this period, he toured with Michael Gibbs and first recorded with German bassist Eberhard Weber. Bill moved to the New York City area in 1979 and stayed until 1989. He now lives in Seattle....
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”It's hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell. Mixing rock and country with jazz and blues, he's found what connects them: improvisation and a sense of play. Unlike other pastichists, who tend to duck passion, Mr. Frisell plays up the pleasure in the music and also takes on another often-avoided subject, tenderness.” - The New York Times

“Frisell is a revered figure among musicians - like Miles Davis and few others, his signature is built from pure sound and inflection; an anti-technique that is instantly identifiable.” - The Philadelphia Inquirer

“I like to have fun when I play and I like comedy - but it's not a conscious thing. I'm basically a pretty shy person and I don't dance or get into fights. But there are all these things inside me that get out when I perform. It's like a real world when I play, where I can do all the things I can't do in real life.” - Bill Frisell to The Village Voice

Over the years, Frisell has contributed to the work of such collaborators as Paul Motian, John Zorn, Elvis Costello, Ginger Baker, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright III, Van Dyke Parks, Vic Chesnutt, Rickie, Lee Jones, Ron Sexsmith, Vinicius Cantuaria, Marc Johnson (in “Bass Desires”), Ronald Shannon Jackson and Melvin Gibbs (in “Power Tools”), Marianne Faithful, John Scofield, Jan Garbarek, Lyle Mays, Vernon Reid, Julius Hemphill, Paul Bley, Wayne Horvitz, Hal Willner, Robin Holcomb, Rinde Eckert, The Frankfurt Ballet, film director Gus Van Sant, David Sanborn, David Sylvian, Petra Haden and numerous others, including Bono, Brian Eno, Jon Hassell and Daniel Lanois on the soundtrack for Wim Wenders’ film Million Dollar Hotel.

This work has established Frisell as one of the most sought-after guitar voices in contemporary music. The breadth of such performing and recording situations is a testament not only to his singular guitar conception, but his musical versatility as well. This, however, is old news by now. In recent years, it is Frisell's role as composer and band leader which has garnered him increasing notoriety.

“For over ten years Bill Frisell has quietly been the most brilliant and unique voice to come along in jazz guitar since Wes Montgomery. In light of this, it may be easy to overlook the fact that he may also be one of the most promising composers of American music on the current scene.” - Stereophile

“Bill Frisell is the Clark Kent of the electric guitar. Soft-spoken and self-effacing in conversation, he apparently breathes in lungfuls of raw fire when he straps on his (guitar)...His music is not what is typically called jazz, though it turns on improvisation; it's not rock'n roll; and it sure ain't that tired dinosaur called fusion. In one of the biggest leaps of imagination since the Yardbirds and Jimi Hendrix, Frisell coaxes and slams his hovering split-toned ax into shapes of things to come...But besides being a guitar genius, he's turned into a terrific songwriter. Like Monk, Frisell's harmonic and melodic ideas form a succinct, seamless mesh with outer sonic and rhythmic ideas about his ax.” - Spin

“Frisell just has a knack for coaxing the most inviting sounds out of the instrument, and the composition skills to put them in just the right order. Combine a Colorado youth given to soul and C&W with solid jazz training, abetted by a decade-long residency in the heart of NYC's avant scene, multiplied by a fun factor of X (he has scored Buster Keaton's films) and you've got a recipe damn near perfection.” - The Mirror

Bill Frisell, Big Sur (Okeh, 2013)
Bill Frisell, Live Download Series (Songline/Tonefield, 2011)
Bill Frisell, Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Jazz, 2010)
Bill Frisell, Disfarmer (Nonesuch, 2009)
Jim Hall/Bill Frisell, Hemispheres (ArtistShare, 2009)
Bill Frisell, History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2008)
Bill Frisell/Matt Chamberlain/Lee Townsend/Tucker Martine, Floratone (Blue Note, 2007)
Paul Motian, Time and Time Again (ECM, 2007)
Bill Frisell/Ron Carter/Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Nonesuch, 2006)
David Binney, Out of Airplanes (Mythology, 2006)
Bill Frisell, East/West (Nonesuch, 2005)
Bill Frisell/Petra Haden, Petra Haden and Bill Frisell (True North, 2005)
Bill Frisell, Richter 858 (Songlines, 2005)
Bill Frisell, Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004)
Bill Frisell, Blues Dream (Nonesuch, 2001)
David Sylvian, Everything And Nothing (Virgin/EMI, 2000)
Bill Frisell, Good Dog, Happy Man (Nonesuch, 1999)
Paul Motian, I Have the Room Above Her (2005)
Kenny Wheeler, Angel Song (1997)
Jazzensemble des Hessischen Rundfunks, Atmospheric Conditions Permitting (1995)
Bill Frisell This Land (Nonesuch, 1994)
Don Byron, Tuskegee Experiments (Nonesuch, 1992)
Bill Frisell, Where in the World? (Nonesuch, 1991)
Bill Frisell, Before We Were Born (Elektra/Nonesuch, 1989)
Gavin Byrars, After the Requiem (1991)
Bill Frisell Band, Lookout For Hope (1988)
The Paul Bley Quartet, The Paul Bley Quartet (1988)
Marc Johnson's Bass Desires, Second Sight (1987)
Paul Bley, Fragments (1986)
Marc Johnson, Bass Desires (1986)
Bill Frisell, Rambler (1985)
Paul Motian Trio, It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago (1985)
Jan Garbarek Group, Wayfarer (1983)
Bill Frisell, In Line (1983)
Eberhard Weber, Later That Evening (1982)
Paul Motian Band, Psalm (1982)
Jan Garbarek Group, Paths, Prints (1982)
Arild Andersen, Molde Concert (1982)
Eberhard Weber, Fluid Rustle (1979)Bill Frisell, Quartet (Nonesuch, 1996)

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Featured recording “Big Sur”

Big Sur
Okeh (2013)
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