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Described as being at the “very epicenter of modern American Music” (BBC), Bill Frisell has developed a career as a guitarist and composer that has spanned more than thirty-five years and 250 recordings, including forty of his own. Frisell’s recording catalog has been cited by DownBeat magazine as “the best recorded output of the decade,” including his recent albums for the Savoy label, Sign of Life: Music for 858 Quartet; Beautiful Dreamers, with his trio; and All We Are Saying, a new collection of John Lennon interpretations.
Frisell’s recording Big Sur was his debut for Okeh/Sony Masterworks. Composed at the Glen Deven Ranch in Big Sur, California, it features music commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival. The album’s unusual instrumentation of strings and drums comes alive in a newly assembled quintet composed of long-time associates from his groups, the 858 Quartet and Beautiful Dreamers.
The music of Bill Frisell spans a wide range of musical expression, from original Buster Keaton film scores and arrangements for extended ensembles with horns and strings (Blues Dream, the Grammy-nominated History, Mystery, and the Grammy-winning Unspeakable) to collaborations with bassist Viktor Krauss and drummer Jim Keltner (Gone, Just Like a Train). Other releases include an album with Nashville musicians, entitled Nashville; a solo album called Ghost Town; a collection of traditional American folk songs and originals inspired by them, named The Willies; and two trio albums—one with jazz legends Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, the other with Ron Carter and Paul Motian.
Recognized as one of America’s twenty-one most vital and productive performing artists, Frisell was named an inaugural Doris Duke Artist in April 2012. He is also a recipient of grants from United States Artists, Meet the Composer, and National Performance Network. Currently, Frisell is the guest curator for the Roots of Americana series at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the resident artistic director at San Francisco Jazz.
Always on the lookout for opportunities to “dig around for where I’m coming from,” Frisell revealed his next project to be an homage to the instrumental popular music made “right at the birth of the Fender Telecaster guitar,” which, he recalls, “got me super fired up” about this instrument of choice. Frisell will be joined by fellow guitar master Greg Leisz on electric and pedal steel guitars, along with his trio partners Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. Together, they will be exploring music of the Guitar in the Space Age—Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, Charlie Christian, B. B. King, Merle Travis, Jimi Hendrix, Link Wray, Duane Eddy, Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry, Dick Dale, the Ventures, the Astronauts, the Wrecking Crew, and more. As on all Frisell projects, the proceedings will be, he understates, “rich with possibility.”