Bill Frisell, A Portrait


Face the Music | 2017 | 114 minutes

Stranger Says:

The copious praise heaped upon Bill Frisell by a plethora of jazz greats in Emma Franz’s engrossing documentary on the local guitarist/composer may seem excessive, but she proves that it’s all justified. Her subject’s speaking voice mirrors his playing: soft, eminently thoughtful, diligently questing, perpetually exuding a sense of wonder. Revered for his ability to perform with almost any musician in almost any context, Frisell has recorded with everyone from that bastion of Euro-jazz quietude, ECM Records, to Naked City’s extreme noise-jazz unit and dozens of points in between. His tone—pensive, pellucid, spangly—pervades this film, canonizing the exquisite language of his dexterous fingers.

SIFF Says:

Bill Frisell is not simply a universally admired guitarist and composer―and very possibly the world’s nicest person, Emma Franz’s doc suggests―but a living embodiment of the inadequacy of the labels we attach to musical genres. He comes from the jazz world, but, especially in recent years, those who try to describe his output are as apt to mention country or Americana. Music that has germinated his abundantly imaginative improvisations includes the work of John Lennon, Aaron Copland, and Madonna; among his collaborators over the years have been Renée Fleming, Lucinda Williams, and the BBC Symphony―shown here in a generous amount of rehearsal footage for one of Frisell’s compositions. Franz also visits him at his Bainbridge Island home, full of his recordings (when Frisell says he’s made hundreds of albums, he’s not kidding) and his guitars (each one has a story). The talking heads here wax rapturous about not only Frisell’s versatility but, conversely, the personal, unmistakable style and sound he brings to everything he plays; fellow guitarist John Abercrombie perhaps sums it up best when he says “You hear the history of the guitar when he plays.”

No Showtimes Found

submit to reddit
Film Credits
Emma Franz
Bill Frisell, Paul Motian, Jim Hall, Mike Gibbs, Jason Moran, Jim Woodring, Joey Baron, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wollesen, John Zorn
SIFF 2017