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The indefatigable Bill Frisell

Mario Calvitti By

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AAJ: Did you have some reference in mind?

BF: Nothing, I just wanted to play and be with John. We would decide what the titles were after I played. Everything was finished in just one sitting, recorded and mixed. I don't spend a lot of time in the studio, not like a rock band or something. Usually when I do an album it's two or three days of recording, then few days of mixing, but it's still more like worrying about every little detail. For Silent Comedy I just wanted to do it, and also there was sort of a connection with John to be just me and him in the studio and see what happens.

AAJ: One of your latest projects is Music for Strings, which is basically a new version of the 858 Quartet. Have you recorded something new with this group?

BF: Actually there's a new Bill Morrison film that's called "Electricity." It's an old animated film about how electricity works. We recorded music for that film and that's something we do live, we've done lots of gigs with that group. Before there was the 858 Quartet which was... about 15 years ago. That was sort of the beginning of the new group. Since then we've done lots and lots of gigs and we keep playing new music. One year ago we did a tour in Europe and again it was more different music. Next fall we'll come to Europe to do a tour. When I say 858 Quarter everybody thinks at the Gerhard Richter project. I just wanted to make it clear that now it's something else, but it still feautures the same people that recorded Signs of Life and Big Sur, with drums added.

AAJ: You have always had a lot of different projects and collaborations. How do you manage to handle them all?

BF: Sometimes I think I'm going crazy! It's hard to remember everything. Maybe it's because I'm getting older. I'm 66 years old and still every day there is something new. Two days ago I was in Canada playing with Thomas Morgan and now I'm here with the trio doing "The Great Flood." Every day is like a whole another world.

AAJ: Do you have some favorite group setting? Maybe the trio?

BF: Well I don't know if it's really a favorite. All these different people that I play with, they're like really like such a family, I feel so close to all of them. I was just thinking about it this morning. I was feeling excited that I would be playing again with Tony and Kenny. But of course I was excited when I was playing with Thomas. I feel really lucky, I don't think there's a favorite band... it's like going in some kind of a circle and every time I come back it's a little bit different. It always stays new this way, somehow, and, as a result, I'm still excited for the next thing.

AAJ: What are your future projects?

BF: Later in the summer I am going to do a solo album, just alone, but probably different than Silent Comedy. All I know is that all the music will be my own compositions. I'm going do it in Portland, Oregon, where I've done a few of my albums. It won't come out till... I don't know when, maybe next spring. And then, like I said, there's the Andrew Cyrille recording. It's been great to play with him too, he's somebody that I listened to for many years. We would see each other, we would meet, but we didn't start playing together until just a few years ago. Then there is Charles Lloyd, I've been playing a lot with Charles, we've been recording a new album, I don't know when that will come out. All next year I have several gigs with Charles Lloyd, just lots of things....

AAJ: Claudia Engelhart during your tours is acting as your manager and sound engineer, and she is recording all of your concerts. Do you select the ones for your "Live Download Series"?

BF: There's a lot of stuff, so much that I can't even remember what we have. So every once in a while it seems like a good idea to stop. I always feel that the live thing is always different from what's on a CD. There's so much stuff, and I don't listen to it myself. Even when I make a CD I don't like to listen to my own things. Usually it's my manager dealing with that. I was just talking to Claudia that I want to have her be more involved, because she's always there, she has a better memory and is better placed to say "Oh wow that was a good gig." I forget, the next day I don't remember, it's too much to put out...

AAJ: What is the response to your download series?

BF: I think it's been a while since something came out... The response seems good, I think people are happy...

Claudia comes to call Bill, it's time for the soundcheck. We stop our conversation thanking the artist, and looking forward to the evening concert and all the coming projects he anticipated.

Photo credit: Andrea Rotili


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