Bill Frisell

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2012

Seattle, WA

Bill Frisell is a guitarist, composer, and arranger whose prolific career demonstrates extraordinary range, with work rooted in jazz but often incorporating elements of American blues and popular music traditions. His many works include Floratone II (Savoy, 2012), All We Are Saying (Savoy Jazz, 2011), Disfarmer (Nonesuch, 2009), History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2008), Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004), and The Intercontinentals (Nonesuch, 2003). Among his many accolades, he is a Grammy winner, was named a USA Fellow, and received a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center in 2006.

  • Photo Credit: Monica Frisell
  • Bill Frisell- Bill Frisell performing “Ol’ Man River” by Jerome Kern, 2011:
    Bill Frisell performing “Ol’ Man River” by Jerome Kern, 2011
  • Bill Frisell- Bill Frisell performing “Keep Your Eyes Open,” 2004:
    Bill Frisell performing “Keep Your Eyes Open,” 2004
  • Photo Credit: Monica Frisell

What fuels your impulse to make creative work?

The music. For as long as I can remember I've been attracted to music. Seeing the guitar on TV. Cowboys. The Mickey Mouse Club. The instrument seemed like a magic wand. People would gather around it. Come together. Music fuels the impulse. Once you enter into it, the music will guide you. It presents you with a question or possibility. You search for the answer. If you find an answer, there is always another question. More questions appear... and more answers. On and on. It never stops. The music always tells me what to do. It's an incredible world to be in. A beautiful forest. Extraordinary. Climbing from limb to limb. Huge trees. Deep roots. Many branches… reaching way up into the sky. Every inch of it is exciting and new... like nothing you've ever seen before. Anything you can imagine is in there. Somewhere.