Celebrated guitarist Bill Frisell's nineteenth Nonesuch record, Unspeakable, was released on August 24, 2004. The groove and soul-based collaboration with renowned producer Hal Willner takes a freewheeling, idiosyncratic approach to the modern art of music sampling. As a jumping-off point for the record, Frisell and Willner employed obscure songs and sounds culled from vintage vinyl records for their own sonic explorations, borrowing and integrating choice fragments into original compositions. Willner, Saturday Night Live's music supervisor, scoured NBC's well-stocked record library for inspiration. The pair sampled the ideas and/or moods from the various tracks Willner had unearthed; in most cases, Frisell elaborated on the original, creating new songs and often going in a totally different direction from the sample.
With Willner manning the turntables, Frisell is accompanied by frequent collaborators Tony Scherr (bass), Kenny Wollesen (drums), and Steven Bernstein (trumpet, horn arrangements). Don Alias and Adam Dorn are featured on percussion and synth, respectively. Frisell also wrote string arrangements, which are played by the 858 Strings: violinist Jenny Scheinman, violist Eyvind Kang, and cellist Hank Roberts.
You can listen to the entire album here (quicktime needed): Unspeakable
"Making this record with Hal was the fulfillment of a 20-plus year dream for me," said Frisell. Early in their careers, Frisell and Willner collaborated on Willner's groundbreaking 1981 multi-artist tribute to Nina Rota's music for Fellini films. Although he had never heard the guitarist, Willner gave Frisell his first solo recording opportunity, based on a recommendation from a mutual friend--drummer D. Sharpe, for whom a track on Unspeakable is named. The pair crossed paths often over the next two decades, collaborating on Stay Awake, a record of Disney music, and Weird Nightmare, a tribute to Charles Mingus. Frisell also performed as part of the Willner-produced tribute concerts for Harry Smith and Randy Newman at UCLA.
Other Willner-produced records on which Frisell is featured include Marianne Faithful, Allen Ginsberg, David Sanborn, and Gavin Friday projects. The two also recorded music to accompany William S. Burroughs's reading of Naked Lunch. More recently, they joined forces on the scores for Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester, as well as Wim Wenders' Million Dollar Hotel with Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, and Bono. During the Hotel sessions, Willner heard Frisell playing dance music and got an idea for a unique joint venture, something the genre-bending Frisell had never recorded before. As Willner says, "We wanted to make a beautiful, fun record that still was a Bill Frisell record. I think we succeeded."
In a career that spans more than 20 years and 100 recordings, guitarist, composer, and bandleader Bill Frisell has been hailed by The New York Times as "the most significant and widely imitated guitarist to emerge in jazz since the beginning of the 1980s." Frisell's Nonesuch discography comprises 19 albums, primarily featuring his own compositions, and recently was cited by Downbeat as "the best recorded output of the decade." Highlights include a solo guitar album, Ghost Town; two CDs of original scores for Buster Keaton films; Nashville, which was recorded with colleagues including mandolinist Adam Steffey and banjo player Ron Block, dobro great Jerry Douglas, and bassist Viktor Krauss; a trio recording with Elvin Jones and Dave Holland; and collaborations featuring Jim Keltner, Greg Leisz, and Krauss (Gone, Just Like a Train, and Good Dog, Happy Man). His recorded works also include covers of music by Charles Ives, Stephen Foster, and Bob Dylan, among others. Frisell and the Intercontinentals recently were nominated for a Grammy Award in the world music category for their 2003 Nonesuch recording The Intercontinentals.
In addition to his work as soloist and bandleader, Frisell has established himself as one of the most sought-after collaborators in contemporary music. He has worked with diverse artists such as Burt Bacharach, Ginger Baker, William S. Burroughs, Gavin Bryars, Ron Carter, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, Frank Gorshin, Charlie Haden, Julius Hemphill, Fred Hersch, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Lee Konitz, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Rod McCuen, Paul Motian, David Sylvian, Laura Veirs, and John Zorn, among others.
BILL FRISELL TOUR DATES
11.05 | Cedar Cultural Center | Minneapolis, MN
11.06 | Oberlin College | Oberlin, OH
11.07 | Barns of Wolftrap | Vienna, VA
11.08 | Ram's Head | Annapolis, MD
11.11 | Nuci's Space | Athens, GA
11.12 | Nuci's Space | Athens, GA
11.17 | Iron Horse Music Hall | Northampton, MA
11.18 | Regatta Bar | Cambridge, MA
11.19 | Regatta Bar | Cambridge, MA
11.20 | Regatta Bar | Cambridge, MA
11.21 | Tractor Tavern | Seattle, WA
11.22 | Tractor Tavern | Seattle, WA
11.30 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.01 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.02 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.03 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.04 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.05 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.06 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.07 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.08 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.09 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.10 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.11 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
12.12 | Village Vanguard | New York, NY
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