When You Wish Upon A Star

Grammy nominated 2016 - Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

Bill Frisell – electric and acoustic guitar
Petra Haden – voice
Eyvind Kang – viola
Thomas Morgan – bass
Rudy Royston – drums, percussion

Produced by Lee Townsend
Arranged by Bill Frisell

Released: 2016

1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Pt. 1                            
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Pt. 2                          
3. You Only Live Twice      
4. Psycho, Pt. 1      
5. Psycho, Pt. 2        
6. The Shadow of Your Smile              
7. Bonanza                                  
8. Once Upon a Time in the West (Theme)            
9. Once Upon a Time in the West (As a Judgement)      
10. Once Upon a Time in the West (Farewell to Cheyenne)  
11. When You Wish Upon a Star                          
12. Tales from the Far Side                        
13. Moon River                                        
14. The Godfather                                      
15. The Bad and the Beautiful                        
16. Happy Trails                    

Recording Engineer: Tucker Martine
Mixing Engineer: Adam Muñoz
Mastering Engineer: Greg Calbi
Recorded at Flora Recording and Playback, Portland, OR
Mixed at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA
Mastered at Sterling Sound, NYC

Production Assistance: Adam Blomberg
Assistant Engineers (Flora): Michael Finn and Keegan Curry
Art Direction. Design and Photography (inlay): Paul Moore (StudioMoore.com)
Photography (booklet spread): Paul Hicks
Photography: Monica Jane Frisell

All songs written by Bill Frisell except: To Kill a Mockingbird, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 (Elmer Bernstein); You Only Live Twice (John Barry / Leslie Bricusse); Psycho, Pt. 1 and Pt.2 (Bernard Herrmann); The Shadow of Your Smile (Dave Heywood / Leroy Heywood / Johnny Mandel / Paul Webster); Bonanza (Jay Livingston / Ray Evans); Once Upon a Time in the West(Theme) (Ennio Morricone); Once Upon a Time in the West (As a Judgement)(Ennio Morricone); Once Upon a Time in the West (Farewell to Cheyenne) (Ennio Morricone); When You Wish Up on a Star (Leigh Harline / Ned Washington); Moon River (Henry Mancini / Johnny Mercer / James McMillan / Chris Walden); The Godfather (Nino Rota); The Bad and the Beautiful (David Raksin); Happy Trails (Dale Evans)                


When You Wish Upon a Star, guitarist Bill Frisell draws upon the classic film and television music we have 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 performs with singer Petra Haden, violist Eyvind Kang, bassist Thomas Morgan, drummer Rudy Royston in re-imagining time-honored gems such as When You Wish Upon a Star, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Shadow of Your Smile, Moon River, You Only Live Twice, Frisell's own theme for Gary Larson’s television special, Tales from the Far Side and others.  Produced by Lee Townsend; engineered by Tucker Martine and Adam Muñoz and mastered with Greg Calbi.


Performance Reviews

Wellington, New Zealand

Opera House

June 7th, 2017

It was a deep and astonishing set of music – subtle, pervasive, full of heart and yet almost entirely ego-less. So rare to hear a guitarist play for over 90 minutes without falling victim to one lightning run, the big ole bag of tricks reduced down to merely a few effects and loop pedals and a warmth emanating from them and the strings; Frisell has the chops too – you can hear him burn. Across records by Ginger Baker and John Zorn, on plenty of his own material too. But this was a set drawn heavily from his recent album of reimagined TV and film soundtracks. Stunning stuff and cleverly represented in slightly different versions here (no violin, as is sometimes heard on the record).

Fluid, relaxed, hypnotic as melodies circled then wafted away, it wasn’t just Frisell that was ego-less; here four team players made no dash for the finish-line, never looked like even trying to claim a whisker of available limelight, this was about the music – and about the bond of, and through, playing. Petra Haden’s pure, vibrato-less voice worked when singing an old Disney weepie (When You Wish Upon A Star) or sitting on the most inane of wordless chants (literally a run of “la la la la la la” on Farewell to Cheyenne.

Thomas Morgan might have just totalled the most ‘solos’ of the night, though the band played through them too, so that Morgan’s warm sound found new expressions, rather than just diving down deep and staying low and slow. He also never rushed out the furious fingers that tickle hard at the bass strings as if giving fuss to a kitten’s neck. He seems a player cut from a similar cloth to the dearly departed Charlie Haden (Petra’s dad, over the years a frequent collaborator of Frisell’s and one of the most influential and enigmatic of modern jazz bassists; a legend). Morgan’s playful playing seemed to arrive in a similar way as Haden’s – it felt similarly strong and rich, the right choice always being made, signs of scrutiny in the face too, a calmness covering up for the deep consideration, and there were several moments when Frisell just stopped (never to ever be deemed an over-player anyway) and smiled across the stage at either Morgan on his own or at the interplay between Morgan and Royston.

Rudy Royston has that Brian Blade-type ability to really drive the sound but also be sitting back deep inside it. He brings colour to the sound in his subtle and wise selections; constantly exploring too. One song might see him move from mallets to brushes to sticks, back to brushes and to mallets once again. Other times he would sit as far outside of the song while Frisell’s curling and curious intros set a slow-burn flicker.

Petra Haden’s lead vocal bookended the show with Moon River and You Only Live Twice and an encore brought another Bond theme into a new context – as a representation of where Frisell is at right now it was utterly perfect. See him again next year and he’ll be placing notes, repeating phrases, reshaping the feel and tone of ‘jazz’ guitar in other ways. So many of his lines curl at the end and tangle into a near-country knot; he gently teases them back out into a new furl. And the players around him work so well in helping to achieve this vision, this version. The distillation of so much music, of playing and process, of decisions, genres, moments and moods…all down to this one set of sounds on this one night…well, you could have left a little disappointed you didn’t hear a particular this or that, you might have been frustrated to never quite see what his hands were actually doing – the very anti-guitar hero stance of being side-on to face the band, to let the music speak, and drift, and circle, then vanish.

It was spellbinding.

And then it was over. And I haven’t really been able to think about much else since.

Article by 

Off The Tracks

written by Simon Sweetman 

Original article HERE

Wellington, New Zealand

Opera House

June 7th, 2017

The Wellington Jazz Festival continues to attract jazz luminaries from around the globe. In the past two years we have been privileged to hear Chick Corea, Gary Burton, and Wayne Shorter's quartet. This year, we're privileged to hear three more stellar performers - Bill Frisell, Dave Weckl, and Dianne Reeves. There are always murmurs of 'Hendrix' whenever a new electric guitarist of more than modest inventiveness appears, but they are generally exaggerated. Frisell's early playing was actually closer to Frank Zappa's and Larry Coryell's licks-based and treatment-heavy style, but whereas Coryell was never a genuine synthesizer and Zappa remained firmly rooted in heavily-orchestrated rock, Frisell boils every resource down to usable blocks. Despite his experiments with stylistic hybrids, combining disparate elements of jazz, blues, and country, he has developed en entirely individual voice. His eclectic examination of Americana has incorporated Stephen Foster, John Philip Sousa, Charles Ives, Sonny Rollins, Bob Dylan, and Madonna. Abstract shapes, elegant dissonances, and tuneful miniatures share the resonant familiarity of the melodies in Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring and Billy the Kid. Despite the slight sententiousness of some of his music, Frisell never attempts to debunk or satirize - and however concerned he is with textures, he concentrates on exact figurations of brief and complex melodic shapes, out of which whole pieces grow organically. With repeated hearings, it is these shapes which leave a lasting impression.

Frisell was born in Baltimore in 1951, but spent most of his youth in Colorado, studying clarinet with Richard Joiner of the Denver Symphony Orchestra and continuing his musical education with Johnny Smith at the University of Northern Colorado. His original guitar teacher was Dale Bruning, with whom he released the 2000 album Reunion. After graduating, he attended Boston's Berklee College of Music, studying with Jon Damian and Jim Hall, whose clean picking style clearly had a lasting influence. In Premier Guitar magazine, Jason Shadrick stated that "It could be argued that the jazz guitar tree is rooted in four names: Django [Reinhardt], Charlie [Christian], Wes [Montgomery], and Jim [Hall]". Frisell is a worthy successor in that august lineage.

Frisell's major break came when guitarist Pat Metheny was unable to make a recording session and recommended him to Motian, who was recording Psalm for ECM Records. He became ECM's in-house guitar player, working on many albums, notably Jan Gabarek's Paths, Prints, and his first solo release In Line. He became a member of ECM stablemate Paul Motian's groups from the early 1980s until the drummer's death in 2011. Motian's final album as bandleader was The Windmills of Your Mind, featuring Frisell and singer Petra Haden, daughter of much-missed bassist Charlie Haden. In the 1980s, Frisell lived in the New York City area and was an active participant in the downtown music scene. He forged a creative partnership with John Zorn as a member of quick-change band Naked City, and performed and recorded with many other experimental and avant-garde jazz musicians. During this period he also became well known internationally for his work in Motian's trio, alongside saxophonist Joe Levano.

In 1988, Frisell moved to Seattle and made two of his best-reviewed albums: Have a Little Faith, an ambitious survey of Americana, from Ives and Copland, to John Hiatt, Bob Dylan, and Madonna (a lengthy, psychedelic-tinged version of Live to Tell); and a complementary set of original compositions This Land. During this time he contributed to Ryuichi Sakamoto's Heartbeat, and also started performing soundtracks to Buster Keaton's silent films with his trio. In the mid-1990s, Frisell disbanded the trio and initiated his adoption of more explicit elements of bluegrass and country music. His friendship with Gary Larson led him to provide music for the TV version of The Far Side, released on the album Quartet along with music written for Keaton's Convict 13. In 1999, he was commissioned by Minneapolis' Walker Arts Centre to compose Blues Dream, later recorded for a 2001 release on the Nonesuch label. Also in 1999, he released The Sweetest Punch, featuring a seven-piece ensemble that reworked tunes from Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach's Painted from Memory.

Since 2000, Frisell has focussed on folk, country music, and Americana, using an array of effects to create unique sounds from his instrument. From 2003-05, he was musical director for Century of Song (a series of concerts at the German Ruhrtriennale arts festival) inviting artists such as Rickie Lee Jones, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Arto Lindsay, Loudon Wainwright, Vic Chestnutt, Van Dyke Parks, Buddy Miller, Ron Sexsmith to perform their favorite songs in new arrangements. 2003's The Intercontinentals, seamlessly blended American roots music with Brazilian, Greek, and Malian influences, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. He won Best Contemporary Jazz Album for Unspeakable in 2005. Frisell collaborated with Matt Chamberlain, Tucker Martine, and Lee Townsend in the exquisitely experimental Floratone band in 2007. His 2008 album History, Mystery was nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group in 2009. Also in 2009, he recorded DisFarmer, and entire album inspired by the eccentric photographer Mike Disfarmer, and featured in a duet rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah with singer-songwriter Sam Shrieve. The following year he started working with the Savoy Jazz label, for whom he recorded Beautiful Dreamers and a second release of Sign of Life. In 2011, he offered interpretations of John Lennon's music in All We Are Saying, and his latest album, Small Town, was recorded live at the Village Vanguard in New York, where Frisell recently relocated.

The Wall Street Journal described him as "the most innovative and influential jazz guitarist of the past 25 years," while The New York Times said "It's hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell. Mixing rock and country with jazz and blues, he's found what connects them: improvisation and a sense of play. Unlike other pastichists, who tend to duck passion, Mr Frisell plays up the pleasure in the music and also takes on another often-avoided subject - tenderness."

On the evidence of his opening night at the New Zealand Jazz Festival, it's hard to disagree. Frisell presented songs from the Grammy-nominated When You Wish Upon A Star, an album of sweetly dark and dreamily re-imagined soundtrack music that combines favorite memories with less well-known moments of movie and TV magic. Accompanied by Thomas Morgan on double bass and the astonishing Rudy Royston on drums, Frisell and vocalist Petra Haden managed to imbue familiar themes with a fresh sense of drama - from the disturbing menace of The Godfather and Psycho, through the heartbreaking romanticism of Alfie, Lush Life, and Moon River, to two brushes with John Barry (You Only Live Twice and Goldfinger). His single-note lines were at times loaded with enough reverb to sink a battleship, while at others they explored more abstract territory - but Frisell is too melodic to linger there for long, with a mellifluous and seamless legato evocative of Jerry Garcia and Peter Green at their most lyrical, rather than the tersely acerbic angularity of Derek Bailey. It is this astonishing range - from lines of sinuous dexterity to chunky power chords and elegant avant-garde experimentation - that makes Frisell one of the most exciting and unpredictable guitar players around.

Article by 

Scoop Media

written by Howard Davis

Original article HERE



If you could distill innocence and then teach it to play guitar it would sound like Bill Frisell.  Frisell is still the kid whose eyes light up with that “oh, wow!” sense of wonder at the sounds an electric guitar can make. With each note of You Only Live Twice he seemed to be saying to us, “Can you believe this thing?”  And it was glorious; the bass strings sounding simultaneously fat and twangy; the treble shimmering with overtones.

Frisell might be among the most intuitive improvisers and innovative guitarists in jazz history, but if is his ability to turn off the tap of accumulated knowledge and play like a child that defines his artistry.  So it’s no coincidence that his When You Wish Upon A Star project revisits the screen music of his formative years with charming ingenuousness.  Frisell doesn’t look for ways to put an individual stamp on this material: he just plays it, and the stamp takes care of itself.

Petra Haden, meanwhile, sings with a naive purity: a girlish sound with no vibrato, as though someone has said to her, “Don’t try to be a singer.  Just sing.”  At 35, bassist Thomas Morgan still looks like a teenager and, with his instinct for space and simplicity, sounds like the spiritual heir to Petra’s father, Charlie Haden, arguably jazz’s most profound bassist.  Drummer Rudy Royston excludes less artlessness than the others, but in lacing the material with endless subtleties he makes the music more three-dimensional.

This project has grown exponentially since the band released its album last year, and in retrospect they may have recorded it prematurely.  The repertoire has expanded, and everyone sounds looser and more relaxed with the material, playing it with an even more fascinating blend of affection, amusement, reverence, nostalgia, self-effacement and unforced creativity.  The title track was a highlight, Frisell’s Milky Way of electronically treated sounds fathomless in their mystery, yet still nursing that childlike sense of wonder.

Preview by John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, June 6, 2017




“One of the world’s most inventive guitarists and composers”
NPR Weekend Edition

“A personal spin on music from the movies”
“An introspective but expansively creative guitarist”
-The New York Times

“Unforgettable themes are the real draw here, reconfigured with ingenuity, wit and affection by Frisell and a terrific group featuring violist Eyvind Kang, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston.”
-Jazz Times

“With guitar, viola, voice, drums and bass Frisell ingeniously reimagines large orchestrations with careful simplicity.”

“When You Wish Upon A Star is yet another showcase of Frisell’s unique treatment of atmosphere and texture”

“Bill Frisell’s music has always had a kind of doubleness to it, as if it existed simultaneously in real time and dream time. For all its detailed specificity and precision, something mysterious hovers over the music, pulling it into another dimension. How perfect, then, that this album deals with movie themes, so concretely etched in our collective memory yet from a genre that feels so much like dreaming.”

“[Frisell] possesses a rare ability to truly get to the heart of the music while still imbuing it with his often idiosyncratic musical dispositions…and an ever-unabashed love of all music that has made him one of the most important guitarists and conceptualists of his generation… in any genre.”

 “an album that, in its own inherent diversity and performed by a stellar group that features, for the first time, a vocalist in his lineup, ranks not only as one of the guitarist’s best albums in recent years, but one of his best recordings ever.”
-All About Jazz

“When You Wish Upon A Star is Frisell and band taking their raw materials and fashioning from them a thriller of their own.”

“Inventive renditions…The sound of vintage Hollywood”
-LA Times

“Like no other player on earth”

 “a musical journey through cinema with a series of elegant, delicately sentimental
interpretations of film music.”
-Time Out New York

“With its ethereal beauty, plangent elegance, and evocation of wide-open spaces, the music of guitarist Bill Frisell has frequently been described as cinematic, and in fact his work has turned up in various films over the years. He takes the tradition head-on with his gorgeous new album When You Wish Upon A Star…”
-Chicago Reader

“It will only take a few notes for those of you who are unfamiliar with the serene guitar work of Bill Frisell to become addicted.”
-WGBH Front Row Boston

“His electric guitar has long evoked the lonely, open spaces of the American West.”

“Frisell’s arrangements are sparse and mysterious, with flat-out lovely contributions from violinist Eyvind Kang and vocalist Petra Haden. Longtime Denver drummer Rudy Royston adds dramatic texture, and overall, ‘Star’ is another deeply felt addition to Frisell’s dense catalogue.”
-The Denver Post

"Movie songs are the ultimate ear worms. Who hasn’t whistled the theme from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” or crooned a Disney lullaby?  Bill Frisell can’t resist, either..........his latest album is devoted to composers famous for their work on the silver screen, including Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herrmann, Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein. Mr. Frisell and his quintet revisit vintage orchestrations on the album, When You Wish Upon a Star.”
- The Wall Street Journal