Bill Frisell, beautiful dreamer The guitarist who changed the sound of American music

Philip Watson

Book - 2022

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 787.87092/Frisell Due Jun 24, 2023
London : Faber & Faber 2022.
Physical Description
viii, 548 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Philip Watson (author)
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A full-length portrait of the multidimensional guitarist Bill Frisell and his music. Born in 1951 in Baltimore, Frisell grew up in Denver, where his father persuaded him to take up clarinet in the school band. However, he was already strongly attracted to guitar, the iconic instrument of the popular folk and rock groups that served as some of his first musical influences. As Watson, former deputy editor of GQ, writes, Wes Montgomery converted Frisell to jazz, and he began to take his instrument seriously. He attended Boston's Berklee College of Music, "the most renowned jazz studies school in the country," but dropped out after one semester. He went to New York City to study briefly with Jim Hall, one of his idols, who urged him to find his own voice. Frisell returned to Colorado to pursue that goal and play with local bands. A gig by local guitarist Mike Miller convinced him that his tight focus on straight-ahead jazz was too limiting, and his new approach opened the doors for his subsequent musical growth. Watson follows Frisell through his long-lasting, celebrated career, documenting record dates and performances with other musicians ranging from drummer Paul Motian to avant-garde composer John Zorn, with a repertoire that runs from gentle country fiddle tunes to electronic squawks and raw feedback. The author shows a laconic but deeply sensitive and thoughtful musician, providing ample quotes from him and many various associates and admirers. Throughout the book, Watson intersperses "Counterpoint" chapters, in which other musicians or friends (Paul Simon, Hal Willner, Gus Van Zant) listen to his albums and comment on the music and the man behind it. Ultimately, the author delivers a must-read for Frisell's fans and a compelling introduction to those less familiar with his playing. A fascinating musical biography of one of today's most versatile and unique guitarists. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.