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Bill Frisell: Disfarmer

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Mike Disfarmer was a reclusive eccentric in Heber Springs, Ark. Fifteen years after his death in 1959, when 3,000 of his glass plate negatives were discovered, it became known that he was also one of the greatest artists in the history of photographic portraiture.

Encountering Disfarmer’s indelible human images for the first time is a disturbing yet uplifting experience. The faces of farmers and soldiers from the Depression and World War II eras look startled by how hard life is, yet undefeated. When guitarist-composer Bill Frisell discovered these works, they inspired him to create musical miniatures as stark and unexplained as Disfarmer’s photographs. Frisell’s 26 pieces, many under two minutes, are music in praise of the deep silence contained in Disfarmer’s single frames.

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