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BILL FRISELL

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Bill Frisell biography

BILL FRISELL is an extraordinary name in a guitar world of contemporary American jazz and jazz rock scene: he is both eclectic in blending various musical styles (prog folk, classical, country, noise) and experimental from the timbral point of view, since he's extensively using a large number of guitar effects, making unique sounds with delays, distortions, reverbs, octave shifters etc.

He was born in Baltimore in 1951. He played clarined as a youngster. In early 80's, Pat Metheny recommended Frisell to Paul Motian who was recording an album for ECM Records. The consequence was Frisells new status: an in-house ECM's guitarist. The most notable cooperation from this period is probably working on an album with Jan Garbarek. Frisell released his first solo album in 1983.

The following two albums, 'Rambler' and 'Lookout For Hope' (released in '84 and '87 respectively) were done with a quartet -- Kermit Driscoll on bass, Joey Baron on drums, and Hank Roberts on cello (later reduced on trio when cellist left). This period is know as the New York City Era. He started his companionship with John Zorn - being a member of his band NAKED CITY.

In 1988 he moves to Seattle. The early 90's, arguably Frisell's best period brought 'Have A Little Faith' and 'This Land', on first exploring the whole palette of Americana music - from Copland to Dylan to Madonna - and on second the set of original numbers. During that period he worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto as well.

During the 00's he was releasing albums mostly one per year, while his career considerably ascending; he was a Grammy Award nominee twice, and a winner in 2005 for the album 'Unspeakable'.


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Music ISMusic IS
SONY MASTERWORKS 2018
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$6.12 (used)
Guitar in the Space AgeGuitar in the Space Age
SONY MASTERWORKS 2014
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$5.96 (used)
History, MysteryHistory, Mystery
Nonesuch 2008
$15.51 (used)
ECM Touchstones: RamblerECM Touchstones: Rambler
ECM 2008
$10.05
$11.29 (used)
ECM Touchstones: Lookout For HopeECM Touchstones: Lookout For Hope
ECM 2008
$8.54
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Nashville (2LP)(ROG Limited Edition)Nashville (2LP)(ROG Limited Edition)
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$35.69
$37.78 (used)
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Music on Vinyl 2018
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Savoy Jazz 2011
$15.95
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BILL FRISELL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BILL FRISELL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.17 | 6 ratings
OKNO (The Window) (with Emil Viklický, Kermit Driscoll, Vinton Johnson
1980
4.60 | 5 ratings
In Line
1983
4.67 | 3 ratings
...Theoretically... ( with Tim Berne)
1984
4.33 | 3 ratings
Dveře / Door (with Emil Viklický / Kermit Driscoll / Vinton Johnson)
1985
4.00 | 5 ratings
Smash & Scatteration (with Vernon Reid)
1985
3.21 | 10 ratings
Rambler
1985
3.94 | 13 ratings
Lookout For Hope
1987
4.00 | 10 ratings
Before We Were Born
1989
3.32 | 9 ratings
Is That You?
1990
4.22 | 9 ratings
Where in the World?
1991
4.64 | 14 ratings
Have a Little Faith
1993
4.10 | 10 ratings
This Land
1994
3.67 | 3 ratings
American Blood Safety In Numbers ( with Godsey and Ales)
1994
4.50 | 6 ratings
Go West: Music for the Films of Buster Keaton
1995
4.60 | 5 ratings
The High Sign/One Week: Music for the Films of Buster Keaton
1995
4.57 | 7 ratings
Quartet
1996
4.57 | 7 ratings
Nashville
1997
4.50 | 8 ratings
Gone, Just Like a Train
1997
5.00 | 3 ratings
Angel Song ( with Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Dave Holland)
1997
4.25 | 4 ratings
Songs we Know ( with Fred Hersch )
1998
4.44 | 9 ratings
Good Dog, Happy Man
1999
4.00 | 12 ratings
Ghost Town
2000
4.00 | 9 ratings
Blues Dream
2001
4.10 | 10 ratings
With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones
2001
4.13 | 8 ratings
The Willies
2002
3.39 | 12 ratings
The Intercontinentals
2003
4.46 | 13 ratings
Unspeakable
2004
4.60 | 5 ratings
Petra Haden And Bill Frisell
2004
4.00 | 5 ratings
Richter 858
2005
4.64 | 11 ratings
East/West
2005
4.08 | 6 ratings
Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian
2006
4.00 | 9 ratings
Floratone [Matt Chamberlain, Bill Frisell, Tucker Martine, Lee Townsend]
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
All Hat (The Soundtrack)
2008
4.40 | 10 ratings
History, Mystery
2008
4.00 | 11 ratings
Disfarmer
2009
3.31 | 7 ratings
Beautiful Dreamers
2010
4.33 | 6 ratings
Lagrimas Mexicanas
2011
4.50 | 6 ratings
Big Sur
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
When You Wish Upon a Star
2016
0.00 | 0 ratings
Music IS
2018

BILL FRISELL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 5 ratings
Live
1995
5.00 | 4 ratings
Deep Dead Blue - Live 25 June 95 (with Elvis Costello)
1995

BILL FRISELL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BILL FRISELL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
A-Collection
2000
4.00 | 1 ratings
Selected Recordings
2002
3.05 | 2 ratings
The Best of Bill Frisell Vol. 1 (Folk Songs)
2009

BILL FRISELL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.14 | 2 ratings
Five Excerpts From Have a Little Faith
1993
5.00 | 1 ratings
A Frisell EP [Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian]
2006

BILL FRISELL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Smash & Scatteration (with Vernon Reid) by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.00 | 5 ratings

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Smash & Scatteration (with Vernon Reid)
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars It is quite surprising that Bill Frisell and Vernon Reid made such fine music together. Sure, they both have explored some avant garde areas, but their styles always seemed so different to me. Where Frisell generally has a rural sound, with extremely odd twists and turns, Reid's guitar usually is brash and in your face.

But here, Frisell's avant country jazz seems to be the central tone. And it works. Especially surprising is Reid's banjo work. Size 10 1/2 Sneaks is almost pure bluegrass, except for all of the electronics warping the tone.

The best points are the songs where either guitarist cuts loose. Ried had a fantasic solo on Dark Skin, and his solo piece, Burden Of Dreams. And Frisell squeezes some wild sounds out of his guitar synth on his solo, Fr, Fr, Frisell.

If you are looking for traditional fusion, look elsewhere. But if you want to hear some fine work from two very different, but imaginative guitarists, give this a shot.

 The Intercontinentals by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.39 | 12 ratings

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The Intercontinentals
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Bill Frisell's solo albums for some years are competent,but quite predictable. Great musician found his own sound of semi-acoustic relaxed mid tempo fusion,heavily based on Americana.Usually if you liked it once you will like his every next album, they are so different from others (but so similar between each other).

The Intercontinentals are quite different album for Frisell - he's seriously uses world music there. But the difference is again ob very his own manner:album is very aerial,relaxed mid- tempo fusion again,even with some dose of Americana almost in every song. The main difference is his international band plays music,rooted in African,Eastern or South European tradition (heavily mixing it with so well known Frisell.

It's interesting,that even if the difference between The Intercontinentals and many other more classic Frisell's albums are quite obvious, you will need some listening just to get it. The main reason is possibly that so specific Frisell's musical techniques,when even not musical material is matter. Working with different musical material Frisell put his signature on final result,you can't make a mistake - it's Frisell's music first of all.Even if you will hear some funk or Brazilian vocals on one or another composition.

I believe Bill's journey to world music is really positive change - his music became too predictable last years,he really needed some new ideas and sounds. Happily,new material (of unusual for him origin) didn't change his music radically, just added some new spices in old good dish.

My rating is 3+.

 Beautiful Dreamers by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.31 | 7 ratings

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Beautiful Dreamers
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Bill Frisell's debut on Savoy Jazz label. He plays with semi acoustic there, and you will hardly be surprised with music you will hear.

Beside of few excurses to some hardcore areas (as with Zorn's Naked City), Frisell's lands are quite comfortable Americana-based down tempo aerial fusion. I really like many of his albums, and this new one is similar to them. But there are both pros and cons.

For fans of Bill's music there are no surprises, and they will find expected doze of his usual melancholic melodic very acoustic down tempo country/bluegrass influenced jazzy sound. But even being of his music's fan, I would like to hear something new, some new ingredients, new accents, possibly even some experimentation. Unhappily, not on this album.

Sound is safe and pleasant. Excellent easy accessible listening for long autumn evening, reading book near fireplace. As well, as almost any other his album. Nice music, you just need to ask yourself, if you're interested in one more " classic" Frisell album.

 Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.08 | 6 ratings

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Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Bill Frisell always had his own place on the map of guitar-led jazz (and fusion). This his album with two jazz scene veterans drummer Paul Motian and bassist Ron Carter is one more example confirming it.

Classic jazz guitar trio plays all the list of great jazz compositions in their own translation. And first of all it is translation to Frisell's musical language - relaxed guitar jazz with lot of country,blues and Americana influences, supported by great acoustic jazz rhythm section.

Listener will find many of compositions he knows played in unusual manner. Acoustic nostalgic tunes don't sound as fusion or post bop you expect. It's just Frisell world of sounds and atmosphere, and if you like (slightly sentimental) soul of your music more then technical acrobatics, I believe you will like this album as well.

 Smash & Scatteration (with Vernon Reid) by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.00 | 5 ratings

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Smash & Scatteration (with Vernon Reid)
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One of Bill Frisell early album - duets with Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society and Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid.

There are just they two playing on this album, but music isn't what you can expect from usual guitarists duet. First of all, them both use plenty of electronics, from guitar synths to dx drum synth (Vernon Reid plays banjo as well). Then, music there is quite experimental mix of usual Frisell's down tempo country and western techniques with big amount of free jazz, electronics and even some hardcore.

Possibly, the mix is not very organic, but many moments will really attracts listener. Some melodic, even nostalgic compositions are mixed with many quite free form electronic/guitar experimental ones. Electronic drums sound often dated and very artificial, happily there are not too much of them.

I believe everyone who knows Frisell's solo works like him mostly because of his eclecticism: here you will find excellent example of it. Far not best Frisell's work, this album is really one of the his most experimental. With it's own pros and cons. But really interesting enough to be listened.

My rating is 3,5, rounded to 4.

 Disfarmer by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.00 | 11 ratings

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Disfarmer
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Frisell's Disfarmer is 26-songs long album! Usually I like this artist and with interest listen to every his new work. He can be very traditional and very non-expectable, you never know what to wait from every his new album.

Album's opener, Disfarmer's Theme, sounds cold, heavy, almost aggressive with distorted guitar and repetitive rhythmic structures. Almost like Trey Gunn's stick on some his solo, TU or KTU works. Wow, Frisell goes hardcore, remembering Naked City?

No, he doesn't. From second song you will return to classic Frisell's mid tempo lazy atmosphere of jazzy americana. Melodic compositions, plenty of emotional and nostalgic elements, funny "That's All Right, Mama" version. Slowly, song by song Frisell falling from a bit more cool fusion to his bluegrass influenced waters. Second album's part is often more nice melodic instrumental music, not even jazz fusion.

Nothing unusual, many Frisell previous works are recorded in similar key. The only possible minus of this, fresh work - the album is obviously too long. Really nice, but very classic to Bill, compositions, in fact absolutely nothing new, just old good music. But - 26 songs? Too much in one place even for fans.

My rating - 3,5, rounded to 4.

 This Land by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.10 | 10 ratings

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This Land
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Another absolutely great Frisell's album. Recorded with Bill's regular rhythm section (bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Joey Baron), there collaborates brass trio on this album as well. It gave very nostalgic atmosphere to Frisell's usual sound - jazz fusion with country & western and American folk elements.

Down tempo atmosphere music is full of brass Americana. From Dixie to country orchestras, but no kitsch there presented at all. Very bright, optimistic and ,what is most important, tasteful music. Drummer Joey Baron is long time John Zorn collaborator and Masada's member, so no strange, this album sounds as countryside Masada. Not original Masada, klezmer-based New York down-town urban avant jazz, but Americana-based country avant-jazz.

This interesting and original mix sounds vintage and very fresh at the same time. Frisell's guitar technique was always very personal, no exceptions here. Very usual sound in very unusual combination - it could be accessible listening for many listeners. But it is not your regular guitar-led jazz-rock, no way.

Not less than 4+.

 Lookout For Hope by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.94 | 13 ratings

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Lookout For Hope
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Bill Frisell's early release on ECM is almost his classics. Excellent mix of aerial guitar, country and western elements, Hank Roberts' cello, Kermit Driscoll bass and Joe Baron perfect jazzy drumming, clear and cool characteristic ECM sound , very soulful melodies - possibly one of the most life-loving of great ECM guitarists. Never commercial, his sound is such pleasant and different, that you just must to try to notice that music isn't simple at all!

Sunny day's atmosphere, very his-only characteristic light guitar technique, plenty of Americana elements in sound - easy accessible, tasteful and never boring. Very recommended for every fan of a bit different jazz fusion, will be a good entrance for newbie as well.

 The Best of Bill Frisell Vol. 1 (Folk Songs) by FRISELL, BILL album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
3.05 | 2 ratings

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The Best of Bill Frisell Vol. 1 (Folk Songs)
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars US guitarist Bill Frisell collection of more "folksy songs". This compilation includes his recordings from Nonesuch Elektra label, released between 1989 and 2002. But it is not just usual "Best of..". Main criteria for collecting the songs for these release was their folk roots.

It's not very easy to describe what these folk roots means here, but let say it is mostly American folk vintage music: blues, country, bluegrass, etc. For sure, songs all are specific Frisell performed, so even if you will easy feel where from each song is coming, it will sound in very original, only Frisell-like way.

Nice album, nice music and excellent musicianship. But whenever songs all are more or less of the same mid tempo dynamics, and use quite connected material, for some listeners this album could sound a bit too-same after same, or even a bit boring.

I think this compilation is more product for Frisell fans, not a good entry for newcomers. Signed as The Best.Vol.1 it will possible be a first in a series of compilation of great guitarist.

 Ghost Town by FRISELL, BILL album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.00 | 12 ratings

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Ghost Town
Bill Frisell Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars First "real" Frisell solo album - all instruments were played by himself solely. All instruments there mean guitars, banjo, bass and loops. All albums music is very acoustic, mostly string sound with some electronic touches. Starting from very first song, music will catch you with its subtle beauty, slow and in places a bit dark tenderness. But some very deep and invisible nuances will never let the sound to be sweet even in a second. After second-third song you, still enjoying of nice sounds, will realize, that all this sounds as one long song. It's understandable - without any rhythm section, Frisell playing quite unusual and interesting music, but of very limited range of sound and dynamics. And often it sounds more like interesting experimentation with sound, than real album of finished songs. Just listen song after song, album is constructed by the way when slow changes happens somewhere in the middle of all recording. It's even difficult to catch the moment, but somewhere you will feel, that without any border or visible changes, music around you is different - more nervous, less melodic, with electronic sounds becoming more important in all sound. Possibly, the album idea was just slowly to lead the listener through this acoustic field with some different pictures all around. And only way you can feel it is repetitive listening, without any rush. Central part of the album is more ambient, than string driven. But the musician will never let you forget melodic component of his music. Second album's part is more filled by ambient sounds and it gave to the music a bigger difference, no danger you will be bored. As any experimental album ( and especially the album without rhythm section at all), this music isn't easy accessible. If you are familiar with ambient music, or are searching for unusual, interesting and in many places beautiful combination of acoustic strings with ambient loops, this album will be attractive for you for sure.
Thanks to clarke2001 for the artist addition.

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