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Music and the Creative Spirit

Bill Frisell: The Quiet Genius

By Published: June 24, 2009
BF: It's still from music and musicians, but I guess I'm becoming more aware that it can come from anywhere. Looking out the window, going for a walk, or just feeling a certain way. It could be from just about anywhere. It's just being a human really. Music is just a reflection of whatever we are as people. If I stay wound up in a room and am thinking about nothing but notes and chords, after a while it really doesn't mean anything.

LP: What have you learned about yourself throughout your career?

BF: I just feel—so lucky. Like I won the lottery and I'm being allowed to do all of this stuff. That's what's amazing to me. When I was younger, I always dreamed about being able to record and have gigs and now it's actually happening and it sometimes just seems too good to be true. I don't really know what I've learned because with music, it's never ending and in so many ways, it still feels like the first time I tried to play.

LP: Is it possible to put into words what you are trying to do with your music?

BF: I don't know because music is the only way I have of expressing myself. That's how I communicate what I need to communicate. I need to have people listening and it's nice to sit around the house and play my guitar, but when you're playing for people, that's what I love. I still don't know that there is anything describable in what I'm trying to say. I feel lucky to be able to play music in front of people, but it can seem so selfish. I'm doing it for myself but I need people there too. It doesn't make any sense if the people are not listening or getting something out of it, but I also know that you cannot try to figure out what people want to hear. All I can do is what I want to do. I just put it out there and hope that they are willing to listen. I think musicians get into trouble when they try to figure out what someone else is going to like, which can turn into a disaster.

LP: What do you envision for the future of jazz and for you personally?

BF: I can get kind of bummed out with everything getting computerized and compartmentalized. Everything's getting squeezed out and I can get discouraged but then I'm actually pretty optimistic. There is always somebody doing something interesting and this kind of music has always been a little bit underground. You have to look around for it a little bit, but I think that's just part of the deal. You start to think it's not there and can get discouraged but then if you look, there is someone in some basement figuring something out, trying to do something. I think the future is going to be fine.

LP: Last thoughts?

BF: Music is so cool and so powerful. I wish everybody could play music. Like my friend Danny Barnes says, "Music is good." It's a good thing. I just feel so lucky to get to do this all of the time.

Photo Credit

Page 1, Page 2: Bruce C. Moore

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