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Two Bill Frisell DVDs Coming This Fall

Bill Frisell

Two new DVDs featuring music by guitarist Bill Frisell will be released on September 1. Songline/Tone Field Productions will simultaneously release three Buster Keaton films on DVD-Go West, One Week and High Sign-that feature original music by the Grammy-winning Frisell. The second DVD, Solos: The Jazz Sessions (Original Spin Media), captures an on-location solo recording session filmed at the Berkeley Church in Toronto, Canada by director Daniel Berman.

Frisell began employing improvised music as soundtracks for feature films in the early ’90s. Commissioned by St. Ann’s in Brooklyn, Frisell and his trio, drummer Joey Baron and bassist Kermit Driscoll, performed live scores to six Buster Keaton films, helping forge a new movement of adventurous jazz musicians composing music for film. In 1995, Nonesuch Records released Frisell’s recordings to Go West, One Week and High Sign. This fall the three Keaton classics will be released, highlighting Frisell’s compositional brilliance in the featured music.

Frisell notes, “Keaton’s films were the very first time I ever tried to do anything for film. There was something special about never doing this before. It came out in an unconventional way, and it really changed how I felt about his work. Yes, there is the comedy, but there is something much deeper, a darker side. We got into the psychology of what Keaton might have been thinking while acting out those scenes, and put that in our writing. It was quite an intriguing way to get my feet wet in the film world.”

Although Frisell wrote tightly structured themes, within his melodies he saw plenty of room for improvisation, especially for drummer Joey Baron. They had starting and ending markers, but in between, there was much freedom to act in the moment. Frisell’s epic musical canvases replaced solo piano soundtracks in One Week and High Sign, and the orchestral and swing jazz soundtrack for .

Solos: The Jazz Sessions presents an up-close portrayal of Frisell, filmed by Daniel Berman at the Berkeley Church in Toronto. A rare solo session with Frisell performing original tunes as well as classics by Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, George and Ira Gershwin, and traditional Americana songs, Solos features an intimate look into his electric guitar and looping wizardry, and includes an exclusive interview with Frisell.

On the taping of Solos Frisell comments, “It’s a weird thing playing solo. I live for the interaction with other musicians because when you put something out there, you get something in return, and you are able to build momentum. When you perform solo, it just goes out into space, and you have to come up with ideas right away to follow it up. I learned to allow silence when playing by myself. There’s really something special about one person sitting and playing guitar. I’m really happy with how this project turned out. The filmmaker created such an amazing atmosphere to play music in.”

Solos marks the debut release by Original Spin Media (Solos Jazz) in its three-year series broadcast by Bravo Canada. Other artists highlighted in the Solos series include Joe Lovano, Brad Mehldau, James Blood Ulmer, John Abercrombie, Andrew Hill and many others.

Originally Published