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Published on October 11th, 2011 | by Sam

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Bill Frisell

Prolific-ism

Yes that’s a word I have made up… Anyway, if you’re around me much you will know about my adoration of Bill Frisell. Just an amazing musician, and someone who can wear so many hats. Not that wearing many hats makes you something special in itself, it’s more that he can both do it well and keep his own identity while doing so. In fact it may not be him wearing so many hats as much as it is a lifelong (or career-long for the longer sighted) proof that personality rules. Whichever it is, his is an absolute inspiration to me, and by the looks of his record sales and impact, to many others. He is prolific. Plain and simple, he puts out a lot of material. Since 2000 he has released 17 albums of mostly his own music, not to mention dozens of sideman releases. And his projects or bands list is pretty staggering. Probably the most remarkable thing is that he does all of this at such a high level of quality.

While thinking about this my first idea of course is to pour myself into more projects. But let’s face it, some people have amazing capacities that go beyond what some of us have. And it may be more like a muscle that develops over time. The point though is not to make diversity the goal, but how much quality you can put into each project.

The other thing about Frisell’s ‘prolific-ism’ that can be gleaned from his career is that it is built over the course of years. He isn’t trying to add to his diversity (a mistake I know I have made and sure some of you have too). He is being himself and letting the whole picture develop. It’s not that each project builds a foundation and project after project he has built this building of albums. Think of it more like each project gives the listener or fan a different angle look at the same thing. With Frisell we have a pretty complete look at who he is as an artist. It’s deliberate because he is significantly making sure that he brings his personality to every recording. But that’s it, at least from my perspective. He isn’t deliberately diversifying or being different. He is deliberately being himself, and he’s such an honest artist (and ambitious) that he devotes himself to quality and personality, and that has given him many opportunities to build and amazing career.


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