Echo Location: Bill Frisell

A Different kind of Americana

You can hear an audio version of this Blog with Bill Frisell’s music here.

Disfarmer Guitarist Bill Frisell is a genre unto himself.  His music flows through interlocking veins of jazz improvisation and harmonies, country melodicism and twang, chamber music strings and electronic dissonances.  On his latest album, Disfarmer, Bill Frisell takes his Fender Telecaster into a country chamber music setting with pedal steel guitar, violin and upright bass.  Disfarmer was an obscure portrait photographer who worked in the 1930s and 40s.

BILL FRISELL: He basically lived in this real small town called Heber Springs in Arkansas and he had a little photography studio on the main street and would just sit outside and ask people if they wanted to have their photo taken.  And he was kind of a loner kind of guy, he didn’t have friends and I guess he was kind of intimidating, people didn’t really like him and it didn’t seem like he liked them much either.

familyNevertheless he got intimate photographs. Like a rustic Richard Avedon, he framed his subjects so that their hard-scrabble lives are revealed in every line on their faces.  You can hear that in Bill Frisell’s music as well.

Bill Frisell says his country sound was always there, although not quite evident in his own music or his work in the ear-bending dissonances of John Zorn’s Naked City group. But in the mid- 1990s, he went to Music City and recorded the deeply country inflected album, Nashville.

BILL FRISELL: I went there and I played with a banjo player and a mandolin player and a Dobro player and that really got me thinking about it a lot more where I wanted to research that music more.

Bill Frisell’s country experiences led him towards a more profound understanding of music’s deeper connections.

BILL FRISELL: Whatever we call this stuff, blues and jazz and country and rock, if you go back far enough, there’s some point where you can’t make those divisions in it and that’s what really gets me excited I think.

Bill Frisell’s Disfarmer is out July 21st on Nonesuch Records.  You can see Disfarmers photo online. I’ll have a more extended interview with the guitarist on Monday.  This has been an Echo Location.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


  1 comment for “Echo Location: Bill Frisell

  1. cultchas
    July 29, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Great serene Morricone-ish guitar tone over Philip Glass, completely different from wailing hardcore pieces from Naked City. Funny, the album covers even show the contrast between Weege’s shot over Disfarmer’s. Thanks for posting the audio clip!

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