Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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FRISELL, Bill

(b 18 March '51, Baltimore MD) Guitar, banjo, composer. Studied with Jim Hall '71 and under Mike Gibbs at Berklee mid-'70s, touring with him '78. Ubiquitous on ECM label in '80s, playing with Paul Motian (trio with Joe Lovano still touring and recording '90s), and Jan Garbarek (also on other labels, such as JMT for Motian's Monk In Motian '88). His own ECM albums are Rambler '84 and Lookout For Hope, quiet chamber music released '88. Also active on New York's 'downtown' scene with saxophonist Tim Berne, cellist Hank Roberts, John Zorn, etc (e.g. with Zorn on News For Lulu). His unique paint-squeezed-from-a-tube guitar sound and intelligent eclecticism showcased on Elektra Musician and Nonesuch albums incl. Before We Were Born '89, some tracks prod. by Arto Lindsay (who also sings) and Peter Schere, both of avant-garde rock group Ambitious Lovers; four-part 'Some Song And Dance' has a reed section incl. Julius Hemphill, while 'Hard Plains Drifter' has Frisell fragments arr. by Zorn into one of his kaleidoscopic comic strips. Is That You? '89, Where in the World? '91, Have A Little Faith '93 (incl. music by Aaron Copland, Stephen Foster, Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan) and This Land '94 followed by two CDs of Frisell's Music For The Films of Buster Keaton: three Keaton films inspiring a fan's guitar wizardry; Bill Frisell Quartet had trombone, trumpet, violin doubling tuba and guitar, some tracks originating as accompaniment to Gary Larson's animated 'The Far Side'. Gone, Just Like A Train '97 on Nonesuch with Jim Keltner and Viktor Krauss on bass (Alison's brother) touches disparate bases in American music, encroaching on Ry Cooder's territory. Live! '91 made in Spain with Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron is on Gramavision, now from Rykodisc; he also recorded with co-leader Vernon Reid on Smash And Scatteration '84 on Rykodisc, etc. Intense, highly individual and consistently innovative, Frisell has expanded the textural and harmonic possibilities of the guitar.