MASTER GUITARIST BILL FRISELL TURNS CURATOR FOR ROOTS OF AMERICANA SERIES WITH SAM AMIDON, JASON MORAN AND ALICIA HALL MORAN
by BEN GREENMAN photography ATISHA PAULSON
In his three decades as a recording artist, Bill Frisell has ranged across American music, from jazz to country to pop to folk. He has collaborated with everyone from Vernon Reid to Elvis Costello, created film scores and covered artists as diverse as Neil Young, Hank Williams and Madonna. Now he's taking on a new challenge, as the curator of Jazz At Lincoln Centerâ€™s Roots of Americana series. The first shows, opening this month, look at George Gershwin, Charles Ives, Stephen Foster and William Billings.
"THERES A BODY OF SONGS THAT WAS JUST SORT OF IN MY BLOODSTREAM. I DIDN'T REALLY EVEN KNOW WHERE THEY CAME FROM."
A little more than a week before the Lincoln Center event, Frisell was in a San Francisco hotel, putting the finishing touches on the program. Soft-spoken and circumspect, he admits that the notion of an Americana theme initially gave him pause. "From my side, that idea left it very wide open. There's a whole umbrella under that word, Americana, a world of music, and I just wanted to make sure we captured some part of it"
Being Here, a compilation of interviews with extraordinary New York City improvisational musicians on the values and practices that inform their music making. I ask them about composing, improvising and bandleading, andabout the relationship between art and the audience. The book is a resource on the creative process, and tells a story of jazz at this time and place. By Radhika Philip
Featured artists: Andy Bey, Ben Monder, Billy Hart, Bill Frisell, Brian Blade, Butch Morris, Chris Potter, Dafnis Prieto, David Binney, Dave Douglas, Gregoire Maret, Henry Threadgill, Jane Ira Bloom, Jason Moran, Kenny Wollesen, Maria Schneider, Mark Turner, Robert Glasper, Steve Coleman, Thomas Morgan, Vijay Iyer, William
OKeh released Bill's album, Big Sur, on June 18th, 2013. The project marks his label debut as well as the first album featuring the Big Sur Quintet (which combines his 858 Quartet and Beautiful Dreamers trio).
The region known as Big Sur occupies 90 miles of spectacular central California coastline, midway between Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, and extends inland to the abruptly rising Santa Lucia Mountains. Over the past century, Big Sur's rugged coastline and terrain, breathtaking vistas, and potential for communion with nature have attracted and inspired a multitude of creative types, such as Robinson Jeffers, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Ansel Adams, Charles Lloyd, John Adams, Hunter S. Thompson, The Beach Boys, Death Cab For Cutie, and others.
On the sixth day, we are visited by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell is no stranger to the Fretboard Journal, he was interviewed in our fourth issue by banjo player Danny Barnes and then, in issue 12, Frisell himself penned a story where he interviewed his guitar hero, Jim Hall. To be honest, we simply never get tired talking to him.
"Floratone is Mr. Frisell's studio alliance with the drummer Matt Chamberlain and the producers Lee Townsend and Tucker Martine. The project, which hinges on a deft editorial restructuring of free-form guitar-and-drums interplay, released its self-titled debut on Blue Note in 2007. Everyone on board seems to have adjusted to the premise since then. "Floratone II is a surer and more engaging album. Most of its tracks still feel like snapshots, but they're vivid, color-saturated, with flashes of intrigue." - NY Times / Nate Chinen
Paul Motian (March 25, 1931 - November 22, 2011)"No words for what I am feeling now. Music is good. Paul Motian was a MUSICIAN. He taught me, brought me up. Pointed the way. Showed me things I never could have imagined. Led me to places of extraordinary beauty. Indescribable. Paul never let up for one second. Raising it up. Always. No compromise. Listen to the MUSIC. I am blessed to have known him." ~ Bill Frisell