Tag Archives: Bill Frisell

Matt Wilson Christmas Tree-O ft. Bill Frisell Tuesday and Wednesday @ Jazz Standard


The superb drummer’s whimsical holiday album decked every hall in town last year—nice to see it has become an ongoing tradition. Saxophonist Jeff Lederer takes the book through all kind of changes, including a conflation of Ayler and “Angels We Have Heard On High.” Helping with the fa la la las this time around is guitarist Bill Frisell, who I bet puts a memorable spin on “Mele Kalikimaka,” the red-nosed Christmas salutation from our 50th state. They also share a love of John Lennon, so sing along and war will be over (if you want it). Totally entertaining stuff at Jazz Standard.



Enfants Terribles @ Blue Note


Reconstruction is paramount for this intergenerational quartet of saxophonist Lee Konitz, guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Joey Baron. They’ll grab a standard’s thematic DNA and twist it silly. The result is a concoction which often has zilch to do with predictable expectations. The 84-year-old Konitz is particularly mercurial, aligning impulses into a cagey schema.  
Tonight’s the last night! Here’s Kelvin on the action.

10 Best Things About Day Two of the Newport Jazz Festival

1. Before launching into his set proper, Miguel Zenon warming up on his alto with the head to Sonny Rollins’ “John S” – an aside that begged to be followed through.

2. The day after Louis Armstrong’s birthday, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire generating a clarion disturbance during the “dare-you-to-look-away” set-starter, “Richard.” 

3. During a set with Maria Schneider’s Orchestra, Scott Robinson getting a sound out of his sax that didn’t scan like a bari, tenor, alto or C Melody that I’ve ever heard – let’s hear it for singular tone!

4. The unison glide used by the 3 Cohens to swoop back into Ellington’s theme for “The Mooche” after letting pianist Aaron Goldberg have some very productive wiggle room. 

5. The mix of precision and esprit brought to bear on Fletcher Henderson’s “Stampede” by Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks. Every inflection and nuance was accounted for while still making the music crackle.

6. Gretchen Parlato’s use of a shaker during her duet with guitarist Lionel Loueke. It barely made a sound, but its heartbeat rhythm bordered on orchestral.

7. Kurt Elling mouthing the words and swaying in place from the audience as Jason Moran’s Bandwagon spun the Eddie Jefferson recording of “Body and Soul.” 

8. Rudresh Mahanthappa’s obvious glee during a scalding solo by drummer Rudy Royston during a set by the saxophonist’s Samdhi group. 

9. Dan Weiss’s tabla intro birthing the swell of the melody lines at the start of Gil Evans’ “Punjab” during the performance by Ryan Truesdell’s Centennial Project.

10. The grin on audience member Marshall Crenshaw’s face as Kurt Elling provided a puckish reading of Kenneth Pachen’s “Job” during the set by John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet + 1. 

+ one extra, take from the NPR archive…

11. The counterpoint groove on the Malian “Jara Bi” concocted by guitarist Bill Frisell and violinist Jenny Scheinman during their early morning duet.


Just sees what he wants to see… 

De Drums Are Silenced: RIP The Owl of Cranston

So Long to a fellow Rhode Islander. Kelvin chatted with Paul Motian for this piece.  Steve Futterman recalls Motian’s impact here.

This Week’s Jazz Internet Wrap-Up

Esperanza Spalding got nudged further into the mainstream by earning herself a sizable chunk of real estate in the NY Times Fashion supplement, T. What’s it like to rock a $14K de la Renta?

NPR helped Bernie Worrell funk his way through “All The Things You Are.” What would Bird say?

Pi Recordings got a well-deserved moment in the sun with a Times biz profile. If it ever goes sour for Yulun and Seth, they could perhaps sell their entire imprint on Craig’s List, like Black Jazz was trying to do. Nate offered a little Pi interview lagniappe on his blog.

Speaking of Pi, Fieldwork (Iyer/Lehman/Sorey) packed The Stone for four sets. Told you they’d be good. Don’t miss Liberty Ellman on Saturday.

Darcy James Argue launched the site for Brooklyn Babylon, his multi-media collaboration with visual artist Danijel Zezelj. It unites projected animation, live painting, and an original score performed by Argue’s ever-impressive big band, Secret Society.

A Blog Supreme reported on the Jazz Audience Initiative’s provocative finding about the demographics of jazz ticket-buyers. Kids & kash are the koncerns.

Chris Barton says that the Joni/jazz affair in L.A. was a success in the large. I would like to have seen Kurt Elling bounce through “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines.”

Jason Crane’s 301st Jazz Session show connected with the inimitable Jamie Saft, who explained his ravishing New Zion Trio disc, working with Zorn, and getting a great sound in the studio. No mention of Spanish Donkey‘s disturbing grandeur Here’s a chunk of their world debut.

Kurt Gottschalk threw us to Dangerous Minds who threw us to a very cool, and very percussive, Sun Ra clip.

Herbie Hancock announced a solo tour, featuring both electric and acoustic keybs. In a new interview, he recalls when Miles made him take up the Rhodes.

The Voice interviewed Jenny Scheinman about her Mischief & Mayhem group, and she told ’em about feathers falling out of the sky. I went to the show and clocked these three high points. Josh Jackson and company went to the show and brought it to the planet in real time (and archived time). Fred Kaplan went as well; seems he truly enjoyed himself.

In the midst of what’s been kinda/sorta deemed a vibraphone resurgence, Roy Ayers talked about Lionel Hampton. And in the midst of mucho pop competition, Christian McBride’s big band disc was the only jazz title to be included in Billboard’s Fall Album Preview.

Nate Chinen guided us in the right direction vis a vis New York jazz options during the next seven days.  He also reflected on some of the music that changed his life.

@peterhum found a restaurant called Thelonious Monkfish and @destinationout and others messed around with the #jazzrestaurants meme for a bit. A certain gentleman might have won with “Lenny White Castle.”

A new short-form documentary about David S. Ware was announced. “I work on concepts,” says the saxophonist. He also plays “My Ship” quite nicely. Doc hits  right here on August 30. New solo disc Organica, comes out on AUM Fidelity on October 25.

Terrell Stafford was applauded by his Temple bosses for helping kids on the edjumacation trip. A simple spin through this baby right here would teach young trumpeters a thing or two as well.

David Amram talked about French horn, pennywhistle and poetry. Speaking of poetry, Crane was inspired by Cervini.

We were reminded of the precious little time left for the streaming of the Robert Glasper /Darcy James Argue show. And there’s only 10 days left to get Steve Swell’s latest project off the ground.

Tom Hull applied a grade to a long list of new discs. I agree with him on the Eliane Elias title (not the “pale and purple” part, the guitar and percussionist part), but I would have nudged Chris Dingman’s disc a tad higher. Phil Freeman scrutinized the SFE’s extended work on Clean Feed, Positions & Descriptions.

@geniusbastard reminded his twitter stream that Kind of Blue dropped on August 17.  I played “Blue In Green” for the 12,134th time, and asked people to weigh in on their favorite moments from the disc.

Destination Out dropped some rare Jeanne Lee into our pockets. You do know they have tons of great FMP titles, right?

Jazz Times had Randy Brecker choose 10 key Lee Morgan tracks. Yep, he chose a Beatles tune.

Ted Gioia reminded us about Mingus’ thoughts on cat poop. Eat that chicken?

Mike Pride’s new edition of From Bacteria To Boys got a pat on the back from the Times.

Nat Hentoff talked BeanTown roots in Jazz Times.

Bruce Forman knows how to substitute a chord and how to twirl a lasso. Wonder if Bucky Pizzerelli can handle a six-shooter? We know these guys can.

McCoy Tyner was reported to be returning to Cape Town. After playing the NYC Blue Note, of course.

The Konceptions series at Korzo in Brooklyn kept on being excellent.

Red Barat’s “Chaal Baby” is used as the music bed in the new season of Its’ Always Sunny in Philadelphia promo clip.

The Monk Institute stressed their upcoming bash. All hail Aretha! This San Diego piano whiz is involved. Speaking of young talents

Eugene Holly wrote up the Mosaic MJQ box. Mr Whitehead had something to say about it recently, too.

Larry Applebaum gave Gretchen Parlato a run around the course. She did just fine. Howard Reich went to see Donald Harrison mess around with Bird. He did just fine.

Terence Blanchard talked Spike Lee and Clifford Brown. And then he told the L.A. Weekly his five fave film soundtracks. Can you guess the top dog?

Improvisers from the Pine Tree State brought Ellington to the hinterland. Maybe Bill McHenry will work some Duke into the set when he plays at the Barncastle, in Blue Hills, Maine, tonight. He’s joined by RJ Miller and fried shrimp addict, Jamie Saft. Did they get free rooms?

Ted Panken celebrated Mal Waldron’s birthday by sharing archival interviews. The beauty of the pianist’s music piqued Hank Shteamer’s interest and he evoked Ethan Iverson’s poetic investigation of his hero’s work. Here’s  one by Mal I’ve always liked.

Ian Patterson dug deep into trumpeter Cuong Vu. He asked about Pat Metheny, but not about that Jackson Browne cover.

I dropped a stream of Bill Frisell doing “Revolution” from the upcoming All We Are Saying. I also spent time having AccuJazz’s AACM channel wash over me. I forgot that they can claim two Mitchells.

George Colligan reflected on working with Gary Bartz.  Earlier in the summer an elated Bill Frisell, part of McCoy Tyner’s ensemble that particular week, said to me, “I get to work with Gary Bartz!!”

Alex W. Rodriguez put his writing career on hold and ponders how the jazz corner of Blogville has changed in the last two years.

Nicolas Payton wanted us to watch Miles having it out with Harry Reasoner. Harry: “Are you anti-white?” Miles: “Not all the time.”

Bill Frisell Rolls Through John Lennon’s Book

Bill Frisell – All We Are Saying from Normal Life Pictures on Vimeo.

Bill Frisell has a string quartet. Bill Frisell has a small ensemble that makes music inspired by heartland portrait photographer Bill Disfarmer. Bill Frisell has a duo with Greg Leisz that plays Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant tunes.  Bill Frisell has gorgeous duet disc with Vinicius Cantuaria. In June Bill Frisell played in bands led by McCoy Tyner and Lee Konitz. Bill Frisell plays cowboy songs on the recent Majestic Silver Strings record. And – drumroll, please – Bill Frisell now has a band that plays John Lennon tunes.

“It’s started with me Greg and Jenny [Scheinman] at a gig in Paris. They asked us to do John Lennon. We did and it was far out. When we continued the tour in Europe, we just kept playing those tunes. The audience didn’t know that we’d be doing it. So we’d play a Lennon tune and we’d go into the next tune and it would be another Lennon again. There was a fun reaction. When we got to London it all seemed even heavier. Some of the melodies are gorgeous, almost orchestral in a way. Then we left it for a few years. Last year at Yoshi’s last year I was supposed to play different music every night, and I did [the Lennon stuff] with Kenny and Tony, and than it was like ‘Hmmm, we should record this.’ No, no one’s ever sung with us – I kinda want to keep it that way. ”

All We Are Saying comes out on September 27. It features Jenny Scheinman (violin), Tony Scherr (bass), Greg Leisz (guitars) and Kenny Wollesen (drums).


Across the Universe
Nowhere Man
Please Please Me
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
Hold On
In My Life
Come Together
# 9 Dream
Beautiful Boy
Give Peace a Chance

Bill Frisell: Always Changing Everything

Many of us have embarrassing moments in our past, but when one of the hippest jazz dudes around admits to donning a leisure suit and playing in a show band, you prepare for a wince on the seismic level. Indeed, Bill Frisell scrunches up his face when recalling his performance at “a Holiday Inn kind of place” in Warwick, R.I. in the late ’70s but, after a second or two, a half-smile blossoms. The guitarist, one of jazz’s most inventive improvisers, was a student in Boston at the time; another now-famous musician, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, was also part of the group. On the recommendation of bassist Kermit Driscoll, Frisell lightened some money woes by slipping into the band uniform (powder blue, we hope), and familiarizing himself with the highly charged emotions of Morris Albert’s “Feelings.”

“And lots of Donna Summer hits, too,” the guitarist recently recalled during a chat in New York’s Washington Square Park. “It was right when disco was starting. I remember on the second or third gig, Vinnie was bashing — he was really into Tony Williams at the time — and I started to mess around with different ideas. We were supposed to be playing it straight, but I was going all over the place. The bandleader gave me a big lecture — I almost lost the gig. I learned something there, though. I’ve always had some kind of itch to change things around.”

That impulse has worked out well for Frisell, who brings…read the rest of the piece at the Providence Phoenix. Frisell plays in Cambridge tonight and Fall River on Saturday, and Northhampton on Sunday.

Five By Five: Jim Hall

Went to see Jim Hall and Ron Carter play duets last week and was reminded how deeply their art impacted me when I first started listening to jazz. Their Alone Together disc is classique to say the least. Hall is the hero of many string players, and I wondered which pieces other guitarists might choose when asked about favorites. The response is also the kickoff of a new franchise called “Five by Five.” Five players weighing in on one common subject. Hats off to the participants and Jim himself. Which JH tunes are you knocked out by? Tell the world in the “Comments” section below.

1. Anthony Wilson: “Careful,” with Michel Petrucciani 

I remember one of the first times I heard Jim Hall was with Michel Petrucciani, and I got to hear them do this song. I remember vividly the altered blues/diminished kind of thing. They were playing beautiful standards, and then they got to that tune, and it sounded so modern, startling and incredible. I remembered that there was a performance on YouTube, so it would be perfect choice for this list. The first thing that stands out is the angular melody starting over the hypnotic groove. I’ve heard “Careful” played various ways, but I like the setup of this duo. At first you get that rush of tri-tones and half-step/whole step alternating…and they’re grooving so hard you’re with them immediately. Boom: it takes nothing to join them. Jim is a master duo player. He knows exactly where to place himself in relation to another person. His time is so relaxed. I love the ease with which his right hand plays, too. When he stings a note it really stands out. Great texture, very percussive. He brings in the blues, gets lyrical by bending strings. There’s such an array of colors that he brings to six choruses. And with zero flash. Rather than trying to be impressive, he reaches for things that are, in themselves, interesting. Many guitarists don’t make that kind of choice. But fast flurries for their own sake aren’t even an issue for Jim Hall – he would never do that. Equally interesting: the way he comps. As Petrucciani develops his ideas, Jim’s right there in the conversation. He’s always flowing, which is really hard to do. And not just playing 4/4, but truly engaging the partner. It’s playful. Even when you’re playing in a modern framework, there should be no fear to play the blues a bit. When you play a blue phrase – which is a beautiful thing that younger people might shy away from because they don’t want to be ‘old style’ or something – it has real impact. Jim Hall, even when he’s playing in a more angular way, reminds me of blues players of old. There’s something in his attack. It funny that I can so vividly remember first seeing him play this tune. The things that are formative really stay with you. I can always remember seeing them play “Careful” when I was a teenager.

2. Steve Cardenas: “I Hear a Rhapsody,” Jim Hall Live (Horizon)

That whole record is incredible, and that performance has struck me for a long time. In a way there are a lot of Jim Hall elements in that. You hear signature ideas. For a long time there was this notion of “Oh, Jim Hall, the gentleman guitar player, he doesn’t display chops, etc.” I thought that was funny because Jim Hall has as much chops as anyone and if you need proof, listen to “I Hear a Rhapsody.” He’s all over the place on that thing. It’s not as if he’s trying to do anything slick, he’s just playing his heart out, and that’s what comes out. He does it so effortlessly. Like wow, if anyone ever doubted that he had abilities beyond playing the one beautiful note, here’s the proof. Not only that, but what’s going on between him, Don Thompson and Terry Clarke is amazing, a real conversation. It almost sounds orchestrated, but you can tell that’s simply the way they improvise together. On this record we’re hearing Jim Hall in an extremely comfortable environment and we’re hearing things that probably wouldn’t have happened in the studio. The relaxed situation allows him to go beyond on this one. I think this is the first Jim Hall album I bought, and it has has always unfolded for me over the years. Seems like every time I listen to it, I’m hearing new things. It’s that kind of record.

3. Bill Frisell: “My Man Is Gone Now,” Intermodulation (Verve)

When I was young and I found Jim Hall, there was an extended moment where I really had some blinders on. Everything I did was Jim. I had the same guitar, I played the same way, I would have shaved my head if I had the guts. It was a mimicery thing. I stayed in that zone for a few years. I had heard Wes Montgomery, and that got me going. “Oh man,” right? And I found a teacher in Colorado. He was encouraging me, “Yeah,you sound like Kenny Burrell, keep going.” He was being nice. He said, “Ever heard of Jim Hall? His playing might not jump out at you right away, but if you take a sec, it will.” So I got Intermodulation, the second duet disc with Bill Evans. From the moment I heard “My Man Is Gone Now,” I loved it. His sound, and the way they were playing together. I was drawn in. I’ve been trying to play that song ever since. When I first connected with Paul Motian, we rehearsed at his place with Marc Johnson, who Paul had just met, and we were just going to try and play a bit. We said “Okay, what tunes do we want to do?” And “My Man Is Gone” was one of the things we tried. Motian and Marc…Bill Evans, right? I was intimidated. I’d been trying to play that song for 20 years and couldn’t really do it. But back to Jim & Bill: the track is so simple, there’s nothing extra messing things up. And wow,  the emotional power.  I love both of those duet records. I’ve come to realize that the second one is a bit more tentative, which I like.

4. Julian Lage: “My Funny Valentine,” Undercurrent (Blue Note)

Choosing the song was a no-brainer for me. I got into this track when I was nine years old. I remember my teacher telling me to check out Jim Hall. I’d heard a couple things by him, but this was the one that stuck. The CD had two versions, and I studied the difference between the two. Became obsessed with them, really. At first I was knocked out by the rhythm guitar playing; Jim kind of takes an adaptation of the Freddie Green approach. No matter what Bill Evans does – block-chord, single note – Jim is never opposing him. He’s always working towards Bill. I was just saying friend today that there’s this incredible steadfastness to Jim’s playing, meaning no matter what figure or idea he plays, he lets it live a full life. He might offer fragments of a line, but he shows you variations. At many points, if Bill were to drop out completely, Jim’s line would be its own fascinating statement. It baffles me. His lines are so clear. He’s a metronome in the best sense, solid but human. And he’s often got this free floating thing going on. I studied these tracks six years straight, no joke. My parents used to always keep the CD in their car.  Another idea: The tone he has is rather unheard of. If I had that set-up I feel like I’d be totally dry, no nuance. But Jim sounds like he’s in a cathedral. The reverb is in his touch. Brilliance and clarity of intention – wow. If you have a healthy relationship with your touch, it’s going to come through crystal clear, whether you play through a tin can or a state of the art sound system.

5. Mike Baggetta:  “In a Sentimental Mood,” Dedications and Inspirations  (Tel Arc)

He was one of the main guys I’d listen to when I was figuring out my direction. These days I revisit him for inspiration. He reminds me of what I enjoy about music.  I picked this tune because it’s like a distillation of the things that make Jim Hall Jim Hall. He has some humor here. He’s quoting “Mood Indigo” with the actual Ellington voicings, but in distant keys from “In a Sentimental Mood,” so it’s a bit of a funny sidestep. And I don’t think of him having a heavy blues voice, but he sneaks in some really traditional blues lines, which is another great Jim Hall thing: sneaking stuff into a piece in really creative ways. You’re always surprised about what he did and where he did it. The other thing I hear in Jim Hall is the motion he puts into a piece. In this track, he’ll interpret the melody in a certain way and the line will go down and become the bass line and you get these two-note motion things that are interesting. It really keeps things moving in a very personal way. He’s got that kind of legato touch, but he goes from note to note – he’s almost sliding around. It’s almost like the individual notes don’t matter, because the way he gets there directs your ear so strongly. It’s a really heavy thing about his playing that gets overlooked: How he gets from place to place. That subtlety of sound and dynamics.  Incredible.  My dad is a guitar player. We had Jim Hall records. The other reason I picked this track is because when I was a teenager I loved this track so much I wrote him a letter. I wanted to tell him how much I loved the piece. I didn’t know what was going on musically, but the piece moved me. I wrote to the label, Tel Arc Jazz. A couple weeks later I was doing my homework or whatever the phone rings, and my dad says, “Hey, it’s for you. It’s Jim Hall.” I said “Get out of here,” but it really was. I picked up the phone and low and behold it was Jim. I don’t even remember what we talked about. I was too thrilled. Amazingly, he had gotten the letter, read it, dialed information and called. Amazing. Who would do that, go that far? I would up taking some classes with him later.


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