Vol. 15: Bill Frisell—Shall We Overcome? Independent Musicians and the Pandemic Truth
The pandemic has denied us the shared musical experiences we all treasure. It has also deprived musicians of not only their audiences, but also their workplaces and their incomes. Those glimmers of cultural reopening we welcome must also reflect a safe and sustainable scene. Musicians are artists; they are also workers. Now is the time for organization and activism that respects both identities, and that supports artistic integrity and workers’ rights.
Guitarist Bill Frisell is among the most distinctive and compelling instrumental voices in modern American music. This exclusive streamed video finds him alone in his home studio, in Brooklyn, playing songs of longing and of resistance (including, yes, “We Shall Overcome”). After the music, he’ll join series host Larry Blumenfeld and musicians Jerome Harris, Anna Webber, Jay Rodriguez and Phillip Golub, who are active in the Music Workers Alliance, for a conversation about a brighter and more equitable post-pandemic future.
Bill Frisell’s career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 40 years and many celebrated recordings, and his catalog has been cited by Downbeat as “the best recorded output of the decade.” That magazine hailed his latest recording, Valentine, a trio album for Blue Note with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston, as “a masterpiece.” Recognized as one of America’s 21 most vital and productive performing artists, Frisell was named an inaugural Doris Duke Artist in 2012. He is also a recipient of grants from United States Artists, Meet the Composer among others. In 2016, he was a beneficiary of the first FreshGrass Composition commission to preserve and support innovative grassroots music. Upon San Francisco Jazz opening their doors in 2013, he served as one of their Resident Artistic Directors. Bill is also the subject of a documentary film by director Emma Franz, entitled Bill Frisell: A Portrait, which examines his creative process in depth. He has received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music.
Jazz & Social Justice: A Salon with Music
This ongoing series connects the music we love with the social and political issues that matter to us all. Each salon blends live performance with conversation between artists, activists, and experts. Curated and hosted by journalist and critic Larry Blumenfeld, whose NJMIH programs during the past dozen years have considered Afro-Cuban influence within New York’s jazz scene and contemporary New Orleans.