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Bill Frisell

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  • Bill Frisell Brings Multimedia "Disfarmer Project" to Europe

    Bill Frisell launches an 11-city European tour featuring the music of his last Nonesuch album, Disfarmer, in Hamburg, Germany, tonight. Joining him on tour are steel-guitar player Greg Leisz, bassist Viktor Krauss, and violinist Carrie Rodriquez. In the multimedia piece, inspired by the life, work, and subjects of eccentric photographer Mike Disfarmer, projected images of Disfarmer's portraits illuminate Frisell's musical perspectives on this fascinating character.

  • Bill Frisell Begins Two-Week Residency at New York's Village Vanguard; Film Featuring His Music Opens at Hot Docs Festival

    Bill Frisell is in New York City this week to begin a two-week residency at the Village Vanguard. This week's line-up features the Bill Frisell Trio, with Eyvind Kang on violin and Rudy Royston on drums. Next week, Frisell leads his 858 Quartet, with Kang returning on violin, Jenny Scheinman on violin as well, and Hank Roberts joining on cello. Tonight, Portrait of a Man, a new documentary film featuring Frisell's music, receives its international premiere at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto.

About Bill Frisell

In a career spanning more than 25 years and over 150 recordings—including 25 albums of his own—guitarist, composer, and bandleader Bill Frisell has established himself as a visionary presence in American music. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, filmmakers and legendary musicians. But it is his work as a leader that has garnered increasing attention and accolades.

The New York Times described Frisell’s music this way: “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.”

Frisell’s recordings over the last decades span a wide range of musical influences. His catalog, including 20 recordings for Nonesuch, has been cited by DownBeat as “the best recorded output of the decade.” It includes original Buster Keaton film scores to arrangements of music for extended ensemble with horns (This Land, Blues Dream); compositions originally written as soundtracks to Gary Larson cartoons (Quartet); interpretations of work by other classic and contemporary American composers (Have a Little Faith); and collaborations with the acclaimed rhythm section of bassist Viktor Krauss and drummer Jim Keltner (Gone, Just Like a Train; Good Dog, Happy Man).

Other releases include an album with Nashville musicians (Nashville), the solo album Ghost Town, an album of his arrangements of songs by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach (The Sweetest Punch), a trio album with jazz legends Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, and a collection of American traditional songs and original compositions inspired by them entitled The Willies. The Intercontinentals, nominated for a Grammy in 2004, combines Frisell’s own brand of American roots music and his unmistakable improvisational style with the influences of Brazilian, Greek, and Malian sounds. His 2004 release, Unspeakable, won a Grammy Award. His two-CD set East/West features his two working trios recorded in concert on both coasts.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says, “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.”

Frisell’s collaborators have included such diverse artists as Gavin Bryars, Don Byron, Ron Carter, Loudon Wainwright III, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Jerry Douglas, Marianne Faithful, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Paul Motian, Rinde Eckert, Caetano Veloso, Rickie Lee Jones, David Sylvian, Bono, Ron Sexsmith, Vic Chesnutt, Van Dyke Parks, Dave Holland, Elvin Jones, Laurie Anderson, Paul Simon, Vinicius Cantuaria, John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Lee Konitz, Hal Willner, Ginger Baker, Charlie Haden, Marc Ribot, T Bone Burnett, Kenny Wheeler, Joe Lovano, John Zorn, Jan Garbarek, Gary Burton, Joey Baron, Marc Johnson, Vic Chesnutt, film directors Wim Wenders, Gus Van Sant and Rory Kennedy, cartoonist Gary Larson and visual artist Jim Woodring, and many others. He is also the music director of A Century of Song for the Ruhr Triennale Arts Festival in Germany. Collaborators in this series have included Suzanne Vega, Elvis Costello, Rickie Lee Jones, Loudon Wainwright III, and Ron Sexsmith, among others.

Latest Release

  • Disfarmer

    Disfarmer

    The late Michael Disfarmer was an odd, curmudgeonly character in rural Arkansas, who, despite his anti-social character, chose to record the stark images of his fellow townspeople, during the 1940s and '50s, in black-and-white photo portraits. Frisell has set the images to music for this recording, to which the Observer gives four stars, calling it "brilliantly" done; the BBC finds it "quietly impressive ... a patchwork quilt sewn with empathy, warmth and a sense of weary pathos."

Releases