All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Bill Frisell

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.

“When I was 16, I was listening to a lot of surfing music, a lot of English rock. Then I saw Wes Montgomery and somehow that kind of turned me around. Later, Jim Hall made a big impression on me and I took some lessons with him. I suppose I play the kind of harmonic things Jim would play but with a sound that comes from Jimi Hendrix”, Frisell told Wire. Bill also lists Paul Motian, Thelonious Monk, Aaron Copland, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and his teacher, Dale Bruning, as musical influences.

Bill recorded his first two albums as a leader on ECM, both produced by Manfred Eicher. Subdued and lyrical in nature, In Line, the first of the ECM recordings, employed both electric and acoustic guitars in a series of solos (including some overdubbing) and duets with bassist Arild Andersen. Second was Rambler, featuring Kenny Wheeler, Bob Stewart, Jerome Harris and Paul Motian. About Rambler, Fanfare said: “Bill Frisell has built a little masterpiece here - not just a showcase for his own instrumental creativity (of which there is much in evidence), but a clever and poetic whole.”

Read more
”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

Read more

Photos (299) Slideshow

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Feb23Sat
Bill Frisell
Jazz Cafe
London, UK
Feb28Thu
Bill Frisell
Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
$185
Mar1Fri
Bill Frisell
Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
$55
Mar2Sat
Bill Frisell
Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
$55
Mar3Sun
Bill Frisell
Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
$55
May2Thu
Bill Frisell Trio ft Tony Scherr & Kenny
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
May2Thu
Bill Frisell Trio ft Tony Scherr & Kenny
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00

Discography

1968

1968

Bill Frisell
Previously Unreleased AAJ...

Strange Meeting

Strange Meeting

Bill Frisell
Previously Unreleased AAJ...

Videos

Similar

Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
saxophone, alto
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar
Charlie Hunter Charlie Hunter
guitar, 8-string