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Milestones

Bill Frisell

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Frisell's music "is wide-open, and it incorporates everything in a single gesture, from the sweetest nostalgia to the harshest dissonance, from desert twang to urban squawk, from fairground Americana to speed-metal, from the Beach Boys to Burt Bacharach to Neil Young to Sonny Rollins to Charles Ives to Henry Mancini to Aretha Franklin to Skeeter Davis to...well, like I said, everything and everybody. His music, at its best, is not about Bill Frisell taking guitar solos. He's not a wanker, and he doesn't have the usual axman's ego. Hell, it's hardly even guitar music at all, except insofar as Bill Frisell is inventing a new use for the guitar, not as a rhythm instrument or as a solo instrument but as the universal solvent of all American music - as a home for every sound he's ever heard."

I am going to see Frisell in concert next week--very much looking forward to it. For me, he is near the top of musicians over the past 20 years.

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In the sense of a complete genre free musician, and in the manner he uses the guitar in new ways puts him in a similar place to Pat Metheny to me. They share the Midwest thing too, although it's hard for me to grasp where Bill is headed. His playing on "Lyle Mays" is phenomenal use of different colors and textures, and he was also an ideal partner for Lyle's thing.

Edited by CJ Shearn

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It's interesting to note that Frisell rarely works with piano/keyboard players, though there is a duo CD with (I think) Fred Hersch where they play standards.

You have heard the Marc Johnson album where both Frisell and Metheny are prominently featured?

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I've heard a few tunes off of it, "Ding Dong Day" is a really cute tune, I like it. I have heard Frisell in context of some of the Zorn stuff , the first two Lyle Mays albums, and a few of his Nonesuch releases, and "Bass Desires". He's a player I need to listen to more. I've always loved his tone. I wish the organ trio he led with Sam Yahel and Brian Blade made a record because, that clip in "Icons Among Us" was smoking.

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Milestones -- I too am a huge Frisell fan, and have purchased almost all his leader dates.

His music is difficult to classify, but consistently stimulating and rewarding of repeated and focused listening. For example, compare Ghost Town, the Intercontinentals, Good Dog, Happy Man, and Gone Like a Train; are each incredible albums, very different, but held together by Frisell's essence.

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I don't know a lot of his stuff, but I really liked the album with Ron Carter & Paul Motian.

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I like far more of Frisell's work than I don't like. His tone, his timing, his taste... all good. Here's a great one that hasn't yet been mentioned - he really carries the date:

51ou59qZOBL.jpg

One central aspect of his style is his self-effacing manner; he seems to work hard to not be the center of attention. In that respect, he seems to shy away from the role of "leader" or "star," and sometimes I do need that as a listener - which could be why I slightly prefer Scofield or Charlie Hunter to Frisell. But I do think Frisell has thoroughly digested more varied styles than Sco or Hunter.

Another one I like:

51yKzWAWxmL.jpg

But I have to say I saw once the quartet with Ron Miles and Curtis Fowlkes, and the music left me cold.

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My favorites (as leader) are these:

Gone, Just Like a Train

Have a Little Faith

Frisell-Carter-Motian

Beautiful Dreamers

The trio with Haden and Ginger Baker is very good, with two releases ("Falling off the Roof" is the other)--and here actually Bill pretty much is the center of attention.

Another good one is "Grace Under Pressure," which is a Scofield record, but Frisell has an almost equal role on it.

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I was in the car last night listening to WKCR and they played some unreleased live recordings of Frisell with Motian and Lovano from 1991 in the Netherlands. Consistently engaging music with the added bonus of not knowing where they were going, but a flow to the music that seemed quite natural. Frisell contributed textures, some semi-basslines, a bit of a solo and enhanced the music greatly.

I saw Frisell once with the Richter 858 group and they were excellent.

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I'm as big a fan of BF as anyone, but I still think the quotation that starts this thread is a little over the top, no one is all that. Fav album - News For Lulu (atypical, I know); fav gig - duo with Joey Baron; fav performance on Youtube - La La Means I Love You. For now.

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I love the stuff with Motian and Lovano, and also the album Nashville.

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I'm a fan of his old trio w/ Kermit Driscoll and Joey Baron. Their Live CD from 1990 is amazing!

And I like the ECM album, Lookout For Hope w/ Hank Roberts. I lost track after he mellowed

with Nashville and so on...

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I've seen him as a 'leader' a few times live and have been somewhat disappointed. Maybe the wrong night or something? The music just seemed to meander. Yet, in the 80's I saw him as a sideman with Marianne Faithfull and he was amazing.

Having said all that, I have tickets to see him at SFJazz next month in this context. Should be VERY interesting!

Bill Frisell presents Hunter S. Thompson’s The Kentucky Derby

Bill Frisell conductor
Hal Willner producer, voice
Tim Robbins voice
Chloe Webb director, voice
Jenny Scheinman violin
Eyvind Kang viola
Hank Roberts cello
Doug Weiselman woodwinds
Ron Miles trumpet
Curtis Fowlkes trombone
Kenny Wollesen drums, percussion

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some interesting discussion in this previous thread (sorry, I still think it would make sense to pick up those existing threads rather than create new ones ... unless there's some nazi venom in the old ones, I do agree there):

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Sorry, I was meaning to look for a previous thread, but forgot.

Still, sometimes it's good to start anew, especially if the old thread has been long dormant. Plus I'm a relative newcommer here.

That Hunter S. Thompson thing sounds a bit weird even for Bill.

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I want to mention "The Sweetest Punch," his take on music by Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach. Not entirely successful, but I have to say that "My Thief" and "The Long Division" are two of the most beautiful pieces I have heard...by anyone.

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I've seen him as a 'leader' a few times live and have been somewhat disappointed. Maybe the wrong night or something? The music just seemed to meander.

I've seen him in a few different settings, including the same sidemen that Milestones will see (if he's going to Cleveland). IIRC he's more likely to play a little more forcefully at times with those guys. The most meandering was just Bill w/ Greg Leisz and both were looping. I was in the front row of small hall. The person next to me fell asleep and another friend was bored to death but I loved it, though part of the fun was just to watch him fiddle with the knobs & foot pedals. Another time he played with a cellist and a violin (Jenny Scheinman) which wasn't the usual jazz guitar outing. I give him credit for endlessly mixing things up. He seems fairly shy and I'm not sure I've ever seen him wearing a shirt that wasn't black.

Edited by Quincy

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I guess some of his stuff could be considered ambient.

I'm not that big a fan of the soundtracks...or, more accurately, a little goes a long way. I was not too big on "Nashville," "Sign of Life," and "Unspeakable" (I think that's the name). He is such a diverse musician, hardly anyone is going to like everything he does; I do, however, repsect everything he does.

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I've heard a few tunes off of it, "Ding Dong Day" is a really cute tune, I like it. I have heard Frisell in context of some of the Zorn stuff , the first two Lyle Mays albums, and a few of his Nonesuch releases, and "Bass Desires". He's a player I need to listen to more. I've always loved his tone. I wish the organ trio he led with Sam Yahel and Brian Blade made a record because, that clip in "Icons Among Us" was smoking.

If you go out to Frisell's website you can purchase a live set with Yahel and Blade. I have it myself and it's very, very good. He sells a lot of his live show on his site and they are available in MP3 and FLAC. Another one that I really like a lot is the one with Greg Leisz. I had a live boot of one of their shows I attended and then later they released a show from what I assume is another date from the same tour. Their musical communication is pretty amazing to watch/hear and I love that kind of cowboy jazz that they play around with. Cosmic American Music indeed.

Here is the link. The organ trio is # 004.

http://www.billfrisell.com/downloads

Edited by six string

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It's interesting to note that Frisell rarely works with piano/keyboard players, though there is a duo CD with (I think) Fred Hersch where they play standards.

Yes, with Fred Hersch. It's called Songs We Know.

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I took a while to warm to Frisell. Found him a bit glacial and I still can't get much from the Lovano/Frisell/Motion group; even seeing them in London ten years or so back left me with a sense of tonalities that were too similar to get my interest.

But I really liked his increasing Americana-ish releases. I actually love this one (not Americana-ish!):

51UMSfo8s7L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

...which I've often seen written off as a disappointment.

Saw him at Cheltenham a few years back with Ron Miles and that concert was absolutely thrilling. Exciting isn't the first adjective you reach for with Frisell but that concert was genuinely exciting.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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I took a while to warm to Frisell. Found him a bit glacial and I still can't get much from the Lovano/Frisell/Motion group; even seeing them in London ten years or so back left me with a sense of tonalities that were too similar to get my interest.

But I really liked his increasing Americana-ish releases. I actually love this one (not Americana-ish!):

51UMSfo8s7L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

...which I've often seen written off as a disappointment.

Saw him at Cheltenham a few years back with Ron Miles and that concert was absolutely thrilling. Exciting isn't the first adjective you reach for with Frisell but that concert was genuinely exciting.

I'll join you in praising that album w/DH and EJ. I was a little surprised that Elvin would play on such a concept but he sure did a beautiful job on it.

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Just to annoy Frisell fanboys and put things in perspective, I remember reading a review of a Frisell concert in the New York Times

where Frisell tried to play acoustic guitar, and the reviewer said he sounded like a beginner- just technically unable to play the thing.

I heard an NPR feature once on him playing with Jim Hall, and he was again featured on what sounded like an archtop guitar.

I can only concur with what the reviewer said.

Sure, I know he usually plays a Fender with lots of f/x, and he's achieved some type of Krishna-consciousness where he's able to play with no ego, and he wins all the Down Beast polls :party: , but that doesn't mean his music neccessarily 'speaks in a very special way' (as we were taught to say in graduate school) to me. :tophat:

Edited by sgcim

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