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Jazz - Released March 16, 2018 | Okeh - Sony Masterworks

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
The guitar isn’t the most used instrument among jazzmen, and revolutionary guitarists are quite logically very seldom. Bill Frisell is lucky enough to be one of them. Year after year (with a career spanning four decades!) and album after album (over forty records under his name, and three hundred as a sideman!), the American has imposed his singular voice, one of the most influential of the last twenty years. Frisell quickly set himself apart from his elders by taking his – instantly recognisable – style onto every possible repertoire. Post bop, free, noise, rock, country, 50s music, he dove into an incredible amount of partitions while staying true to his language and his style − simply put: remaining himself. Yet Music IS isn’t just another album designed to build up his already dense discography. He who shares his music first and foremost, felt the need to express himself on a solo project, a context he’s never really been fond of, often admitting in interviews that he gave his first solo concert years after starting his professional career… But Music IS is the result of a need to play, on acoustic and electric guitar, his own music. After revisiting the music of others, Bill Frisell has decided in this 2018 opus to gather new as well as older themes, some he hadn’t played for years. Listening to these fifteen tracks in one go is like travelling in the colourful meanders of this exceptional musician’s brain. Whether he refines his phrases to the extreme like his master Jim Hall, launches in oversaturated hand-to-hand fights or performs Americana in his own impressionistic way, Bill Frisell delivers improvisations of eternal beauty. Even though this album may feel like a testament piece, Music IS is the work of an artist more alive than ever. And without a doubt one of his most beautiful albums. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released February 27, 2007 | Nonesuch

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released May 26, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon ECM

Hi-Res Booklet
For the first time since his album Lookout For Hope released in 1988, Bill Frisell has appeared as the lead act on a record with ECM, the label with which he recorded In Line in 1983, his first disc, a duet with the Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen. Co-lead act, to be more precise, as the American guitarist once again plays a few duets with a double-bassist: Thomas Morgan, 30 years his junior, who played on his recent When You Wish Upon A Star. This Small Town, recorded in public on stage at Village Vanguard in New York, in March 2016, brings together pieces by Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, Fats Domino or even John Barry, with the theme from the film Goldfinger. An eclectic repertoire on which Frisell totally makes his colourful and impressionist mark. Master of space and silence, he lets plays his notes parsimoniously, and really integrates his collaborator's inspired bassline into his music. A music of utter beauty. © MZ/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 6, 2016 | Nonesuch

From the beginning of Blues Dream, the listener knows that something special is going on. The spare notes of Ron Miles' trumpet and the relaxed guitar work of Greg Leisz lay the groundwork for a spacious sound on the title cut. This openness remains throughout the album, even when alto and trombone are added into the mix. The instrumental "Ron Carter" begins with the loose, electrified feel of an early Miles Davis fusion piece, with Bill Frisell's distorted guitar exploring the space of the piece without resorting to excessive volume. The short and sweet "Pretty Stars Were Made to Shine" leans heavier on the country side, with steel guitar and Chet Atkins' fingerpicking dominating. The arrangements on Blues Dream are a big change from last year's solo effort, Ghost Town. An essential part of the overall sound is Leisz' steel guitar and lap steel work. He also played with Frisell on Good Dog, Happy Man, and helps to set the mood and pace throughout Blues Dream. Ron Miles plays a smaller role, but it is fascinating how well his relaxed trumpet, with its carefully chosen notes, fits into the mix on the title cut and the short "Episode." Blues Dream is a perfectly chosen title: the material, steeped in the blues, is approached in a lazy, dreamlike fashion. Frisell's fondness for putting unusual combinations of instruments together adds to the overall effect, leaving the listener to wonder why no one has ever tried this before. Blues Dream is a lovely release that should satisfy Frisell fans as well as jazz, country, and blues fans looking for a genre-bending experience. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Jazz - Released April 14, 1997 | Nonesuch

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Jazz - Released November 4, 1991 | ECM

This is the closest Bill Frisell has come to an actual solo album, though he is joined on half of the set by bass player Arild Andersen. Frisell's electric and acoustic guitars are multi-tracked throughout. The title piece uses light dissonances to especially shimmering and vibratory effect. IN LINE was produced by Manfred Eicher, whose customary pristine clarity makes an ideal setting for Frisell's subtly nuanced playing. Each of the nine pieces is distinct, but they also lend themselves to an over-arching feeling of connectedness. There is a real album identity to this work. Though quiet and meditative as both a guitarist and a composer, Frisell's style is broad enough to allow for a range of emotional settings--from introspective to celebratory.
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Jazz - Released January 29, 2016 | Okeh

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The role of music in classic film and television has always been considerable. With When You Wish Upon a Star, the ever-versatile guitarist Bill Frisell draws upon the sentimentality of music heard on screen and how it shapes and informs our emotional relationships to what we see. Frisell, whose own music has been featured in major motion pictures like Finding Forrester and The Million Dollar Hotel reflects: “Music is so rich with all the associations that go along with it, whether it’s the words or a memory you get when you hear it.” Violist Eyvind Kang, bassist Thomas Morgan, drummer Rudy Royston, and singer Petra Haden - who recently released her musical ode to classic film, Petra Goes To The Movies - will join Frisell in re-imagining time-honored gems like “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” as well as music from television favorites including The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Honeymooners. © jazz.org
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Jazz - Released July 17, 2009 | Nonesuch

Booklet
Disfarmer was an outsider artist who became famous for his Depression-era photographs of families, farmers, and individuals around his hometown of Heber Springs, AR. This is set by Bill Frisell is the score commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts to accompany a retrospective of the artist's work. Frisell and producer Lee Townsend assembled the guitarist's "country" band for the occasion: violinist Jenny Scheinman, bassist Viktor Krauss, and steel guitarist and mandolinist Greg Leisz. There are 26 cues in this score. Most of them are very sparse, skeletally melodic variations on old-timey parlor music, country blues, and country music, with a few, such as "That's All Right, Mama," done as fusions of hillbilly boogie and square dance music. There's a version of Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" that's a showcase for the atmospheric power of Leisz's steel guitar, which adds to the melodic shades of the tune. Most of this, however, falls into moody, extremely minimal music that is haunting in nature -- much like the figure of Disfarmer himself, who scared many of the residents of Heber Springs with his strange and imposing presence. That said, if only Frisell's music were a bit more imposing. This approach of his is so familiar by now that the listener knows exactly what to expect from cue to cue. Tempos vary little, from slow to almost static, and the lyric palette is extremely narrow. In their restraint, the players are all excellent, but nobody here, not even Frisell, shines. Still, it is a pleasant recording to listen to if not hang on to. It floats and hovers about the room as a peaceful backdrop. Disfarmer is to be taken as a soundtrack rather than as a Frisell album proper, and listened to as a series of sketches rather than as a fully assembled statement from the artist. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released August 25, 2006 | Nonesuch

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Jazz - Released May 14, 1999 | Nonesuch

No doubt pleased with his countrified direction on Gone, Just Like a Train, Bill Frisell gives us a lot more of basically the same thing here -- only with expanded numbers in the ranks. Bassist Viktor Krauss and drummer Jim Keltner return, now accompanied by Wayne Horvitz's understated organ and piano; Greg Leisz on an assortment of fretted instruments, including the Dobro, pedal steel guitar and mandolin; and on "Shenandoah," Ry Cooder's atmospheric guitars. The first tracks of Good Dog, Happy Man pick up right where Gone, Just Like a Train left off -- low-key, perhaps too low-key -- but tracks like "Big Shoe" and "Cadillac 1959" add a bit of swagger to the lope and "Poem for Eva" sports the best tune. Again, Frisell often captures a loose, evolutionary jamming quality in these sessions, playing the country accents off of his jazz sensibilities. Unlike its predecessor, though, you can't imagine this being recorded on a backwoods front porch, for there are some production tricks and distant-sounding electronic loops that give away its Burbank studio origins. Purists on either side of the jazz/country divide are hereby warned to back off so that the rest of us can enjoy this. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released November 1, 2005 | Nonesuch - WBR

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Jazz - Released March 15, 2008 | Nonesuch

Booklet
History, Mystery is among Bill Frisell's most eclectic yet accessible projects. Produced by longtime ally Lee Townsend, this double-disc, 90-minute, 30-piece suite encompasses the full range of Frisell's musical past and his influences, obsessions, and storylike vision. It is performed by a star-studded octet that includes trumpeter Ron Miles, saxophonist Greg Tardy, and a string section featuring Eyvind Kang, Jenny Scheinman, and Hank Roberts, with bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen in the rhythm section. History, Mystery dances across entire musical landscapes: bebop/post-bop, Malian folk music, tangos, Delta blues, modern classical music, vintage soul, and rock. The source material for this recording was compiled from a multimedia collaboration with artist Jim Woodring called Mysterio Sympatico in 2002 and recorded during a tour. The rest was recorded for Stories from the Heart of the Land, a 2007 series on National Public Radio. Frisell composed most of this work, but his own "history" is revealed in his choice of covers: Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," "Jackie-Ing" by Thelonious Monk, "Sub-Conscious Lee" by Lennie Tristano, and "Baba Drame" by Malian guitar legend Boubacar Traoré. The sense of "mystery" is in just how these various sources are melded in a multi-textured tapestry of sound. Balance for this work is achieved in the strength of its arrangements, and the glue that binds them together is the string section. Its role is pivotal: it anchors the listener through its many stylistic and textural changes. The notion of "history" here is also revealed in the way songs are juxtaposed. For instance, a soul tune like "A Change Is Gonna Come" actually precedes a knotty yet swinging bop number like "Jackie-Ing." Non-American sources are cited, too. The nuevo tango-inspired "Probability Cloud" is the theme that bookends disc one. It begins as a digital guitar soundscape before an Astor Piazzolla-inspired tango comes to the fore in the strings. Traoré's droning desert blues "Baba Drame features an interlude that evokes late-19th century Spanish folk music, itself inspired by the chants and sung prayers of the Moors centuries before. Disc two engages themes, departures, and returns in numerous ways: the haunting, near-ambient "Monroe," with guitar and viola in the forefront; the spectral "Lazy Robinson" that floats between carnival music and modern classical composition with a rock backbeat (in waltz tempo); and the two-part "Answer," a strange, nightmarish, and disorienting sketch where the strings play an actual counterforce to Frisell's guitar. The music here is very adventurous and exploratory yet completely accessible. "Faces," with its traces of Gil Evans and Igor Stravinsky, contrasts wonderfully with the tough bebop in "Sub-Conscious Lee (itself furthered by Scheinman's violin referencing Stéphane Grapelli's Gypsy swing). "Waltz for Baltimore" places the grittiness of Tardy's guttural rhythm & blues honk against Frisell's elegant, modernist jazz chords; they are both made slightly surreal by Scheinman's violin, playing a minimal loop that bridges and yet displaces eras in ether. History, Mystery is an ambitious work; it's full of elliptical, riveting moments, shape-shifting colors, and multivalent textures. Frisell's inherent love of formal lyricism, expansive harmonics, and divergent musical histories reflects his tireless passion for tracing sources. In composing his own material, he also interprets and arranges his sources. On History, Mystery he achieves musical alchemy; he creates something new from familiar, exotic, and even forgotten forms, providing listeners with a magical aural experience. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released August 24, 2004 | Nonesuch

With the exception of 2003's Intercontinentals, Bill Frisell had been playing it pretty safe for some time, sticking to his own personal vision of variations on the Americana theme (with nearly all of those albums being produced by Lee Townsend, by the way). Well, a change of producers often means a change of pace, and teaming up with eclectic producer Hal Willner for Unspeakable seems to have gotten the creative juices flowing again. Their working relationship goes back a long ways, all the way back to the Amarcord Nino Rota tribute from the early '80s. The use of a string section on more than three-fourths of the tunes already adds a different flavor to this album, but the fact that Frisell and Willner seem to have taken inspiration from the sounds of classic soul music is what really sets this apart from others in the Frisell catalog. Not only that, but Frisell's delays return in a more prominent role and he offers up some of his fiercest playing in years. There are a handful of introspective pieces that feature just the strings and guitar, with some slight sonic embellishments from Willner. The majority of the tunes, however, sound something like Bill Frisell scoring the music to Superfly! The soul grooves are tough to miss, but with this cast of players, it comes off like some cinematic offshoot of soul music. The grooves are fantastic, and Frisell really rises to the occasion, bringing back the delays, nasty distorted tone, and ugly harmonics that have been largely absent from his more recent releases. There are still lots of lovely sounds, but it's great to hear him stretching out a bit more again. Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen have not only served as Frisell's rhythm section in the past, but they also play together in Sex Mob. Sometimes aided by Don Alias, they really drive the tunes, with the strings and occasional horns punctuating the melody and Frisell's guitars floating all over the place. Willner's use of turntables and samplers adds some great sounds to the mix, sometimes adding an almost exotica flavor. It's all quite accessible, but fans with delicate ears may be put off by some of the noisier moments on the album, like the keyboard (?) sound on "Stringbean" or the guitar solo on "Old Sugar Bear." Other fans will be delighted to hear such a glorious din on a Bill Frisell record again. After so much of a similar thing, it's just great to hear Frisell being pushed in a new direction (and quite a fun one, at that). Recommended. ~ Sean Westergaard
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Jazz - Released October 27, 2008 | Nonesuch

Booklet
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Jazz - Released February 18, 2003 | Nonesuch - WBR

Bill Frisell has been actively -- some would say obsessively -- exploring the depths and dimensions of American roots music since the release of Nashville in 1997. His subsequent recordings -- Ghost Town, Gone Just Like a Train, Blues Dream, Good Dog, Happy Man, and The Willies -- were all approaches to the various folk styles that originated on American soil: country, blues, bluegrass, field hollers, jazz, and others. He has successfully been able to blend, extract, adapt, and otherwise morph one set of music onto another through his own approach to guitar playing -- the song. More than any other contemporary guitarist, Frisell is driven by the notion of song -- what it entails, both in terms of musical and cultural expression, and what it implies. On The Intercontinentals, Frisell continues his investigation of American music, but as a way of understanding how it entwines with the folk musics of other nations. Onboard for this outing are Frisell's longtime collaborators Jenny Scheinman; pedal, dobro, and lap steel guitarist Greg Leisz; as well as Brazilian mega-guitarist and songwriter Vinicius Cantuaria; Macedonian vocalist and oud player Christos Govetas and Malian percussionist and vocalist Sidikki Camara. Frisell had played with Camara and Malian uber-guitarist Boubacar Traore a couple of years before and was intrigued enough to explore the connection further. The result of this unlikely union is one of the most seamlessly beautiful works Frisell has ever produced. On it, he and Cantuaria delve into the modern Malian guitar and percussion sound pioneered by Ali Farka Toure; blend it with the timeless emotional resonance of Greek folk songs via Govetas' oud and infectious Brazilian lyricism; and filter it through shimmering country landscapes and otherworldly string textures that reinvent harmonic properties to suit the lyric of the blues, song, indigenous folk musics, and the contemporary improvisational ideal. Frisell composed the lion's share of the tunes here, but there are also contributions by Gilberto Gil, Traore, Govetas, and Cantuaria. Scheinman's violin acts as a gorgeous signpost for virtually all of these musicians to return to; her melodic sensibility and crisp tone are beacons in the often swirling, escalating, and/or cascading whorls of plucked strings, playing as many as four melodies simultaneously with winding, almost knotty scalar interchanges. What is most fascinating is that even in the vocal tunes, or those where the Malian blues effect is the prominent force, everything else in the mix fans out and creates often contrapuntal backdrops for elegant and lush, if dense, textures. Simply put, this is the busiest record Frisell has made in years, but it doesn't feel like it. His sense of "song" is so pervasive, everything here is arranged to fit its "singing." His own tone is unmistakable, as is Leisz's and Cantuaria's. The guitars are as distinct as the oud and the violin, all of them carried into the next space by hand drums. While each song does stand on its own as a harmonic and lyrical entity, with adventurous improvisation added in the spirit of true exploration, as an album they are linked by the weave of aural tapestry, dynamics, and spaciousness that is so central to Frisell's sound. And while this is more collaborative than perhaps anything he's done in a decade, it nonetheless bears his sonic and esthetic imprint. This is a remarkable album; its sets a new watermark for Frisell's sense of adventure and taste, and displays his perception of beauty in a pronounced, uncompromising, yet wholly accessible way. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released November 4, 2008 | ECM

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Jazz - Released May 6, 2016 | Nonesuch

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Jazz - Released May 6, 2016 | Nonesuch

While Bill Frisell has released plenty of albums under his own name, this is his first true solo album -- the first on which he plays all of the instruments himself. These include electric and acoustic guitar, six-string banjo, and bass, as well as the occasional looped sample. To call the music he creates on this album "introspective" would be something of an understatement. This won't come as a complete surprise to his fans -- there has always been a gentle and meditative quality to his music, and even when he's gotten wild with his trio or with downtown pals like John Zorn or Vernon Reid, those moments of abrasive abandon have always seemed like detours from his more natural, but no less inventive and interesting, sweetness and good humor. But there's a darkness around the edges this time out that is unusual, as if he's lonely playing by himself and a little bit unnerved at the thoughts and feelings he's being forced to face on his own. His rendition of the A.P. Carter classic "Wildwood Flower" starts out with an extended Delta-blues introduction, which is a pretty unusual choice. There are other cover versions, including Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and Gershwin's "My Man's Gone Now," both of which deeply explore the emotional wreckage described by the songs' lyrics; his own compositions, such as the vaguely surfy "Variation on a Theme" and the slightly ominous "Big Bob," seem to be cut out of similar cloth. There are moments of light relief, such as the gently lovely title track and the brief banjo interlude "Fingers Snappin' and Toes Tappin'," but the overall mood here is relatively dark, though consistently beautiful. ~ Rick Anderson
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Jazz - Released December 8, 2017 | ECM

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Jazz - Released February 9, 2018 | Okeh - Sony Masterworks

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Bill Frisell in the magazine