JAzz

John Wheatcroft in­tro­duces the bril­liant and in­no­va­tive jazz style of the fab­u­lous Bill Frisell.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - NEXT MONTH John in­ves­ti­gates the play­ing of mas­ter gypsy jazz gui­tarist Bireli Lan­grene

Bill Frisell is one of the most in­flu­en­tial and unique guitar play­ers ac­tive on the scene to­day. With a ca­reer span­ning four decades, Frisell has played and recorded with leg­endary jazz artists and peers such as Paul Mo­tian, Jan Gar­barek, Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Mike Stern. Bill has had a long­stand­ing as­so­ci­a­tion with ECM records and from the mid 80s has pro­duced a steady stream of unique al­bums as a band­leader. Al­ways evolv­ing as an artist, his al­bums en­com­pass jazz, coun­try, blues, folk, elec­tron­ica and even orig­i­nal sound­tracks to long-for­got­ten silent movies.

Bill’s play­ing has great beauty and depth and while jazz is at the heart of his mu­sic, there is an un­der­ly­ing au­then­tic­ity that im­plies knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of a huge range of mu­sic styles. Not dis­sim­i­lar to Jim Hall in some re­gards, there is in­tel­li­gence and so­phis­ti­ca­tion to his sound that comes from adopt­ing a con­sid­ered ap­proach to se­lect­ing each note. He is both ret­ro­spec­tive and fu­tur­is­tic, ac­tively study­ing the evo­lu­tion of each mu­si­cal genre while em­brac­ing any tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment he can em­ploy.

His ma­nip­u­la­tion of har­mony, with ex­quis­ite voic­ings, su­perb dy­nam­ics and time-feel can be felt in each gen­er­a­tion of gui­tarists, from his Berklee co-stu­dents Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Mike Stern, to younger play­ers like Kurt Rosen­winkel, Lage Lund and Gi­lad Hek­sel­man.

There are 10 un­ac­com­pa­nied ex­am­ples, nine of which are typ­i­cal of ideas that Bill might present in a solo set­ting, while we round up our study with an ex­er­cise that gives us op­tions all over the fret­board for triad in­ver­sions and 7th voic­ings in both drop-2 and drop-3 vari­a­tions. You’ll need an ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of chords to get close to Bill’s level of har­monic flu­ency, so now is as good a time as ever to give this as­pect of your play­ing some at­ten­tion. Ted Green’s book, Chord Chem­istry (Al­fred 1981) and Mick Goodrick’s The Ad­vanc­ing Gui­tarist (Mu­sic Sales 1987) are both amaz­ing re­sources for de­vel­op­ing chord vo­cab­u­lary and knowl­edge of the in­stru­ments in equal mea­sure.

Be­gin by learn­ing each ex­am­ple as writ­ten, mak­ing note of any un­fa­mil­iar shapes and then at­tempt to in­cor­po­rate th­ese new forms in your play­ing. It’s a bit like learn­ing new words: at first it’ll all feel a bit con­trived when you at­tempt to insert any new word into a sen­tence, but with pa­tience and per­se­ver­ance, in time you’ll find your­self us­ing th­ese words with­out think­ing. As al­ways, en­joy.

Some­timeS, i will be hear­ing an or­cheS­tra in my head and i’m try­ing to get that Sound to come out on the guitar Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell play­ing a black Gretsch Duo-Jet with Di Ar­mond pick­ups

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