Bill Frisell's Big Sur Quintet with Jim Woodring

Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 7:30pm
Big Sur Quintet
Big Sur Quintet

Earshot Jazz Festival Event

Bill Frisell’s Big Sur with Jim Woodring

After Eyvind Kang and one-of-a-kind cartoonist Jim Woodring join him in an opening performance, Bill Frisell presents his Big Sur Quintet, fresh from a CD release and as riveting a band as any working today. Playing Frisell’s entrancing compositions, the group evokes the singular spacious beauty of the Southern California coastline. Joining the guitarist are Jenny Scheinman on violin, Seattle-based Eyvind Kang on viola, Hank Roberts on cello, and Rudy Royston on drums.

ARTIST BIOS

Bill Frisell, guitar

"It's hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell. Mixing rock and country with jazz and blues, he's found what connects them: improvisation and a sense of play. Unlike other pastichists, who tend to duck passion, Mr. Frisell plays up the pleasure in the music and also takes on another often-avoided subject, tenderness." - The New York Times                                                                                            

Over the years, Frisell has contributed to the work of such collaborators as Paul Motian, John Zorn, Elvis Costello, Ginger Baker, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright III, Van Dyke Parks, Vic Chesnutt, Rickie Lee Jones, Ron Sexsmith, Vinicius Cantuaria, Marc Johnson (in "Bass Desires"), Ronald Shannon Jackson and Melvin Gibbs (in "Power Tools"), Marianne Faithful, John Scofield, Jan Garbarek, Lyle Mays, Vernon Reid, Julius Hemphill, Paul Bley, Wayne Horvitz, Hal Willner, Robin Holcomb, Rinde Eckert, The Frankfurt Ballet, film director Gus Van Sant, David Sanborn, David Sylvian, Petra Haden and numerous others, including Bono, Brian Eno, Jon Hassell and Daniel Lanois on the soundtrack for Wim Wenders' film Million Dollar Hotel.

This work has established Frisell as one of the most sought-after guitar voices in contemporary music. The breadth of such performing and recording situations is a testament not only to his singular guitar conception, but his musical versatility as well. This, however, is old news by now. In recent years, it is Frisell's role as composer and band leader which has garnered him increasing notoriety. 

Much has been made of the uncategorizable nature of Frisell's music and the seamlessness with which his bands have navigated such a variety of styles. "Frisell's pals just happen to be superb musical chameleons, up to every change of gears and genre the guitarist's catch-all music throws at them. The band even comfortably follows the leader onto Country and Western turf, as Frisell often approximates the whine of a lonely steel guitar." (Minneapolis Star Tribune). Bill's comments to the same publication: "When I was in Colorado, I never really played that country stuff or even liked it that much, though it was all over the radio. But as I got older, it crept into my music a lot." In fact, the Chicago Tribune observed that "Frisell possesses not only impressive compositional skills but also a remarkable ability to encompass seemingly antagonistic musical genres." Commenting on his eclectic compositional inclinations, Frisell told Down Beat: "When I write something, it just sort of comes out. I'm not thinking, 'Now I'm going to write a cowboy song'. It just happens, then I usually think about what must have influenced it later. When I sit down to write something in a certain style, it doesn't work. I don't know if that's important or something I need to do, or if it doesn't matter. I don't care; I'm just thankful something comes out sometimes."

This musical kinship with Miles Davis has been cited repeatedly in the music press. The New Yorker notes: "Bill Frisell plays the guitar like Miles Davis played the trumpet: in the hands of such radical thinkers, their instruments simply become different animals. And, like Davis, Frisell loves to have a lot of legroom when he improvises--the space that terrifies others quickens his blood.”

Big Sur Quintet

A suite commissioned by and premiered at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2012, Big Sur was composed by Bill Frisell while in a 10-day residence at the Glen Deven Ranch in Big Sur. Utilizing a hybrid group culled from Frisell’s 858 Quartet string ensemble and post-bop Beautiful Dreamers trio, Big Sur is not a dreamy, pastoral depiction of the wooded California coast along Highway 1. Instead, Frisell’s unique amalgam of blues, country and jazz combine to form a dynamic invocation of the breathtaking collision of oceanic vistas, redwood forests and rolling plains that mark the magical area south of Monterey – an area that has transfixed generations of artists and writers including Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller. The quartet features string players Jenny Scheinman, Eyvind Kang and Hank Roberts along with guitarist Frisell and drummer Rudy Royston, the group appearing on the new recording released by Sony Classical’s newly-revived OKeh label in June of 2013.

Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring was born in Los Angeles in 1952 and enjoyed a childhood made lively by an assortment of mental an psychological quirks including paroniria, paranoia, paracusia, apparitions, hallucinations and other species of psychological and neurological malfunction among the snakes and tarantulas of the San Gabriel mountains. 

He eventually grew up to bean inquisitive bearlike man who has enjoyed three exciting careers: garbage collector, merry-go-round-operator and cartoonist. A self-taught artist, his first published works documented the disorienting hell of his salad days in an “illustrated autojournal” called JIM. This work was published by Fantagraphics Books and collected in THE BOOK OF JIM in 1992.

He is best known for his wordless comics series depicting the follies of his character Frank, a generic cartoon anthropomorph whose adventures careen wildly from sweet to appalling. A decade’s worth of these stories was collected in THE FRANK BOOK in 2004. The 2010 Frank story WEATHERCRAFT won The Stranger’s Genius Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for that year. The most recent Frank book, CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS, was released in 2011.

Woodring is also known for his anecdotal charcoal drawings (a selection which was gathered in SEEING THINGS in 2005), and the sculptures, vinyl figures, fabrics and gallery installations that have been made from his designs. His multimedia collaborations with the musician Bill Frisell won them a United States Artists Fellowship in 2006. He lives in Seattle with his family and residual phenomena.

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