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Monday, March 20, 2023 | 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
St. Francis Auditorium @ NM Museum of Art
Jazz icon Bill Frisell’s four-decade career as a guitarist and composer has been cited by Downbeat as “the best recorded output of the decade.” “Frisell has had a lot of practice putting high concept into a humble package,” writes the New York Times. “Long hailed as one of the most distinctive and original improvising guitarists of our time, he has also earned a reputation for teasing out thematic connections with his music… There’s a reason that Jazz at Lincoln Center had him program a series called Roots of Americana.” Critics and peers have lauded Frisell as one of the music’s most treasured participants, praising his playing as well as the anatomy of his compositions — how he structures a form around often a simple melody or progression, creating a gesture at once complex and elemental. Four, his latest project, presents this side of his artistry at its most intuitive.
A stunning meditation on loss, renewal, and those mysterious inventions of friendship, the project proffers new interpretations of previously recorded originals as well as nine new tunes. The session brings together artists of independent spirits and like minds: Blue Note stablemates Gerald Clayton on piano and Johnathan Blake on drums, and longtime collaborator Greg Tardy on saxophone, clarinet, and bass clarinet. “This combination of people had been floating around in the back of my mind since before the pandemic,” says the Brooklyn-based artist, who is bringing this stellar lineup of heavy hitters to Santa Fe.
During the lockdown, like so many prolific artists, Frisell turned inward. “It was traumatic not to be with people,” he says, “so I picked up my guitar, and my guitar saved me.” For those months, he wrote stacks of melodies and compositional ideas. By the time he scheduled Four’s recording sessions, he’d amassed piles of notebooks filled with fragmented music. Laying little more than a sketch of information before his fellow artists, Frisell encouraged a kind of spontaneous, cooperative orchestration. “Nothing was really figured out,” he says. “Everyone had the information, but it was super open as far as who plays what when. Without a bass, it was a little scary, but I wasn’t thinking so much about the instruments. It’s always more about the chemical reaction that’s going to happen.”
Recognized as one of America’s 21 most vital and productive performing artists, Frisell was named an inaugural Doris Duke Artist in 2012. He is also a recipient of grants from United States Artists, Meet the Composer among others. In 2016, he was a beneficiary of the first FreshGrass Composition commission to preserve and support innovative grassroots music. Upon San Francisco Jazz opening their doors in 2013, he served as one of their Resident Artistic Directors. Bill is also the subject of a new documentary film by director Emma Franz, entitled Bill Frisell: A Portrait, which examines his creative process in depth.
No opener. Doors at 6:45.
Reserved sections. First 6 rows $79, rows 7 & back $45.
Big thanks to Hotel Santa Fe, KUNM 89.9FM, NM Museum of Art, Adobo Catering & KSFR 101.1FM Santa Fe public radio for supporting this event!