Selected by Dan Grunebaum
A certified superstar of New York Citys
downtown avant-garde, American guitarist Bill Frisell drops into town for a pair of
concerts at Art Sphere on July 19 and Akasaka ACT Theater on July 21.
Frisell has performed on dozens of recordings, perfecting his subdued, lyrical sound as a
sideman for Jan Garbarek and Paul Motian on issues by jazz label ECM before stepping out
front as leader of the Bill Frisell Band.
The band, consisting of Joey Barron on drums, Kermit Driscoll on bass and Hank Roberts on
cello, released Lookout for Hope in 1988, followed by several more albums in
which Frisell defined his eclectic approach. In an interview with Wire magazine
Frisell explained his genre-exploding musical palette as follows: When I was 16, 17
I was listening to a lot of surfing music, a lot of English rock. Then I saw Wes
Montgomery and somehow that kind of turned me around and fitted it all together. Jim Hall
made a big impression on me and I took some lessons with him. I suppose I play the kind of
harmonic things Jim Hall would play but with a sound that comes from Jimi Hendrix.
During his years in New York, Frisell also hooked up with downtown experimentalists John
Zorn and Wayne Horvitz, the former with whom he recorded the radical
jazz-to-rock-and-beyond Naked City (which also featured vocals by Yamatsuka Eye
of Japans the Boredoms) in 1990, and the latter with whom he relocated to his
present home of Seattle in the same year.
Since his relocation to Seattle, Frisells collaborative partnership with
keyboardist/producer Horvitz has blossomed, with a number of recordings issued including
Is That You? and Where in the World?
In 1997, Frisell made his first appearance on national US television for the program Sessions
at West 54th, and in 1999 collaborated with Elvis Costello for The Sweetest Punch,
an instrumental interpretation of the songs of Costello and Burt Bacharach.
For his unusual Art Sphere program-part of the Tokyo Summer Music Festival-Frisell will
explore silent comedies with live accompaniment, playing music composed for
Buster Keatons silent film One Week and other original film scores.
Bill Frisell plays at Art
Sphere on July 19 as part of the Tokyo Summer Music Festival and at Akasaka ACT Theater on
July 21. See listings for