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Artist Profiles

Bill Frisell's Big Ocean

By Published: September 14, 2004
This month he settles into the Vanguard with drummer Paul Motian and Lovano, with a two-week run straddling August and September. "Some of my highest musical moments have been with those guys and it always stays consistently up," Frisell enthused. "When the music gets up into this place where it's sort of unexplainable. The music is just going on and we're playing and it's like that thing where if you become conscious of it, it will stop. With them it gets on to the highest level of communicating with each other. Where nothing has to be figured out or talked about and things will happen that are just sort of... when you think about them later they seem kind of mind blowing. We'll play some whole section all together in the same way in some way we had never thought about playing before."

"That's one of the best things that's happened to me in my whole life," he said about meeting Motian. It happened in 1981. The drummer called the young guitarist on Pat Metheny's recommendation and asked him to play in his band. "That was one of the first situations where someone was calling me to play not because they wanted a guitarist to do a certain thing, but he wanted me to be myself." Lovano joined on with his sax, and Ed Schuller played bass. The group rehearsed every week for about nine months in Motian's Manhattan apartment before their first gig at a club called Ryles in Boston. "It was magical," Lovano recalled. "Very creative. Very spontaneous."

Around 1984 the quartet turned into a bass-less trio. They started rehearsing at Lovano's Chelsea loft where everything was set up including a drum set. "I remember Bill's daughter Monica was a baby at our rehearsal," Lovano said. "As she grew up, through her first four, five years, I remember Monica and Carol, Bill's wife, and my wife Judi. We all were very close."

Frisell lived in New York from 1979 to 1989. After ten years he craved a slower pace, and more space so he could sort out his thoughts and write more. So he moved with his family to Seattle. He likes the air there, and claims it hasn't rained since April. But after getting away from New York, he finds himself falling in love with it again.

"When I go there now I'm actually working every night," he reasoned. "I guess it's not the same as living there. So it's kind of a perfect way to be there. I don't have to worry about all that stuff. I'm usually staying at a hotel or I'm staying with some friends or something and I don't have to worry about the hot water heater breaking and all that kind of stuff."

"Every once in a while I fantasize about moving back. I don't know if I'd do that, but I feel like I really really love that place more than I ever did. In a way it feels like home somehow."

Related Links
Bill Frisell CD Reviews

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