The next show will air on Sunday, November 11, 2017 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with guitarist and composer Bill Frisell, who’s the subject of filmmaker Emma Franz‘s new film Bill Frisell: A Portrait, which screens on Wednesday, November 15, as part of the DOC NYC Film Festival. We’ll also have a short chat with Franz about the film.
Born in Baltimore, Bill Frisell played clarinet throughout his childhood in Denver, Colorado. His interest in guitar began with his exposure to pop music on the radio. Soon, the Chicago Blues became a passion through the work of Otis Rush, B.B. King, Paul Butterfield and Buddy Guy. In high school, he played in bands covering pop and soul classics, James Brown and other dance material. Later, Frisell studied music at the University of Northern Colorado before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied with John Damian, Herb Pomeroy and Michael Gibbs. In 1978, Frisell moved for a year to Belgium where he concentrated on writing music. In this period, he toured with Michael Gibbs and first recorded with German bassist Eberhard Weber. Bill moved to the New York City area in 1979 and stayed until 1989. He now lives in Seattle.
“When I was 16, 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. Later, 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 would play but with a sound that comes from Jimi Hendrix”, Frisell told Wire. Frisell also lists Paul Motian, Thelonious Monk, Aaron Copland, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and his teacher, Dale Bruning, as musical influences.
Bill recorded his first two albums as a leader on ECM, both produced by Manfred Eicher. Subdued and lyrical in nature, In Line, the first of the ECM recordings, employed both electric and acoustic guitars in a series of solos (including some overdubbing) and duets with bassist Arild Andersen. Second was Rambler, featuring Kenny Wheeler, Bob Stewart, Jerome Harris and Paul Motian.
After 22 years of a fruitful relationship with Nonesuch records dating from the late ’80’s, Frisell has embarked on an exciting new chapter with the Savoy Label Group. For his first album for the label, Beautiful Dreamers features a trio Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums. The material consists of a number of Frisell originals plus interpretations of such classic songs as “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, “Tea for Two”, “Goin’ Out of My Head”, “Keep on the Sunnyside” and a rousing rendition of Benny Goodman’s “Benny’s Bugle”.
Frisell’s third album for Okeh/Sony is the Grammy-nominated When You Wish Upon a Star, a project that germinated at Lincoln Center during Frisell’s two-year appointment as guest curator for Lincoln Center’s Roots of Americana series. It features Frisell with vocalist Petra Haden, Eyvind Kang (viola), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) performing Frisell’s arrangements and interpretations of Music from Film and Television.
Frisell’s latest release is a duet with Thomas Morgan on ECM titled Small Town.
(Bio adapted from Frisell’s website)
We will open the program with an announcement from Blues Woman and former Suga’ guest Alexis P. Suter with an announcement about a November 21 benefit concert at BB King’s to help Hurricane Maria survivors.
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Watch Frisell’s trio in this 2017 live clip from Buenos Aires.
Watch Frisell play with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Charlie Haden in this live clip from 1993.
Watch Frisell with saxophonist John Zorn and Naked City in this live clip.
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.