Many musicians are attuned to the energy of a crowd, but very few are concerned with the physical acoustic properties of individual audience members. Frisell is. This ability to identify and adapt to unique situations makes him an in-demand collaborator for musicians of all genres. Frisell recently made guest appearances on two highly disparate records: Paul Simon's 2006 album Surprise and the 2008 release The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull by Seattle drone-metal outfit Earth. "Actually, what I did and the way my brain worked was very similar on both albums," Frisell recalls. "The music is different, but I don't really change what I do. I find myself in these situations, and I just play."

Frisell seems hesitant to overanalyze his music or approach. And like most musicians of his ilk, he shows obvious discomfort with the term "jazz." This was a recurring theme in the acclaimed 2009 documentary Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense, which features a performance and interview with Frisell. In one of the film's early climaxes, critic Paul de Barros questions the current state of jazz and singles out Frisell, saying, "We understand the connection between Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman with black freedom. We do not understand the connection between Bill Frisell and our culture."

Bill Frisell has collaborated on everything from drone-metal projects to Paul Simon albums.
Michael Wilson
Bill Frisell has collaborated on everything from drone-metal projects to Paul Simon albums.

Location Info


Old Rock House

1200 S. 7th St.
St. Louis, MO 63104

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - Soulard


Bill Frisell Quartet
8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12.
The Old Rock House, 1200 South Seventh Street.
21-plus: $26-$36.

Bill Frisell is unlikely to issue a rebuttal, nor does he need to. The societal connection and the grand gesture of Frisell's work is his endless, almost childlike appreciation of music and complete lack of respect for any imposed boundaries. "For me [music is] just part of being human. It's endless, but it all comes from the same place; eventually it just gets back to the first note that some caveman made, and that was it. The only reason it's divided up [into genres] is for business and selling things or so you can describe them. To me it's just way larger than anybody can put into words."

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