Category: Frisell Bill

Bill Frisell in Fretboard Journal 2008

billFrisellHere is a cool 2008 interview with guitarist and innovator Bill Frisell from Danny Barnes and Fretboard Journal. They discuss everything from gear to composing to practicing to living in New York…a whole bunch of good stuff. From the interview:

DB: When you were learning, were there any particular books that got you to a new place? The Nicolas Slonimsky book or any textbooks?

BF: I played clarinet in school. That was my first instrument, and everything I did on that was just looking at music and reading. The guitar came along later, and I learned it on my own in the beginning. It was just playing by ear, playing along with records and playing with my friends. The whole way I came about playing music on the guitar, in the beginning anyway, was a completely different path. Clarinet was this real intellectual thing: I’d see this note on the page and then I learned how to push the right button to make that happen. With my guitar playing, I met [guitarist and teacher] Dale Bruning at the very end of high school, and he helped me to bring the two things together a little more. There were these books that I used, I think they were saxophone books, maybe by Lennie Niehaus. They were exercises written for saxophone players, certain kinds of phrases and slurs, jazzy-sounding saxophone solos. And I guess that was a moment where I was kind of bridging that gap from just playing by ear to being able to read on the guitar. I went through all those books. Now I have shelves full of books that I mean to do stuff out of, but they’re all just waiting around for someday.

Click here to read Bill Frisell in Fretboard Journal 2008

Quick Note: Australian independent film maker Emma Franz is making a documentary about the music and life of Bill Frisell. She is finishing up the project and is raising funds for the final editing and music licensing. Check out a clip from the footage and the project itself, it looks really great:

—Peter Blasevick

For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

billFrisellIn honor of guitar legend Bill Frisell‘s 63rd birthday (March 18), Ted Panken posted his “directors’ cut” (about 1500 words longer) of a DownBeat cover piece he wrote about Bill and his long-standing trio partners Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen, during a week in Perugia for the 2008 Umbria Summer Jazz Festival, the uncut proceedings of a Blindfold Test Frisell took with Panken around 2000 or 2001, in his extraordinarily cramped room at the former Earle Hotel on the corner of Waverly Place & MacDougal, on the northwest corner of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Here he discusses John McLaughlin:

“He always blows my brains out.  There was one moment when I went to a Shakti concert, and I almost quit playing the guitar.  I just thought, “Man, this is hopeless.”  But it was a good moment because it made me figure out that I had to figure out something else to do other than that.  I’ll never be able to… But he’s so much more… He’s known for being, you know, fast, but he’s a soulful… And rhythmically and harmonically, so…it’s some far-out stuff he’s doing.  I can’t figure out why people don’t… He’s right in there in that line of… There’s Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery and Jim and whoever all other guys, and he’s one of those main guys for me.”

Click here to read For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

—Peter Blasevick

Bill Frisell On Piano Jazz

I’m posting five great NPR Piano Jazz interviews this week. Though Marian McPartland no longer actively hosts the show (which has been running since the late 1970s), it still airs weekly with encore performances and in an updated version hosted by Jon Weber.

Int today’s interview, guitarist and composer Bill Frisell brings his sparkling, atmospheric sound to this episode of Piano Jazz in a session that originally aired in October 2007.

At one point in the hour long show,  Frisell’s give his solo take on “My Man’s Gone Now,” from George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. Frisell picked up this tune when he first began studying jazz seriously by listening to Bill Evans and Miles Davis.

“It’s one of those tunes that stayed with me from the late ’60s when I first heard it, and I’ve been trying to play it all along,” Frisell says.

During the interview, Bill’s performances include:

  • “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Harline, Washington)
  • “My Man’s Gone Now” (Gershwin, Gershwin, Heyward)
  • “All the Things You Are” (Hammerstein, Kern)
  • “He’s the One” (McPartland)
  • “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (Williams)
  • “Strange Meeting” (Frisell)
  • “Echoes of Yesterday” (McPartland)
  • “Blue Monk” (Monk)

Click here to listen to Bill Frisell On Piano Jazz