Frisell’s career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 35 years and many celebrated recordings. His catalog has been cited by Downbeat as “the best recorded output of the decade,” including his recent albums for Savoy— Sign of Life with the 858 Quartet; Beautiful Dreamers; All We Are Saying, a collection of John Lennon interpretations; and his debut release for OKeh/Sony Masterworks, Big Sur, featuring music commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival and composed at the Glen Deven Ranch in Big Sur, for strings, guitar and drums in a quintet comprised of long-time musical associates.
His current tour, When You Wish Upon a Star, is based on his newest Grammy-nominated album of the same same name (released 2016), a project that developed at Lincoln Center during Frisell’s two-year appointment as guest curator for the Roots of Americana series (September 2013–May 2015). In When You Wish Upon a Star, Frisell draws upon the classic music from film and television we have heard on screen and how it shapes and informs our emotional relationships. The album features Frisell with vocalist Petra Haden, Eyvind Kang (viola), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) performing Frisell’s arrangements and interpretations of iconic music, including re-imaginings of time-honored gems such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Moon River,” “You Only Live Twice,” the theme from “Bonanza,” and more. The touring version of the band includes Haden, Morgan, and Royston. Jazz Times lauded the album for its “unforgettable themes… reconfigured with ingenuity, wit, and affection by Frisell and a terrific group.”
Frisell’s other the Grammy-nominated album, Guitar in the Space Age! (2014), is an homage to the inspirational popular music of his formative years made in the wake of the birth of the Fender Telecaster guitar. Frisell and his band mates explore material on the Okeh/Sony Masterworks release associated with the Beach Boys, Junior Wells, Pete Seeger, the Byrds, Duane Eddy, the Ventures, the Kinks, Chet Atkins, Link Wray, Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant, the Astronauts, Merle Travis, Johnny Smith, and others, as well as original material by Frisell.
Frisell’s Nonesuch output spans a wide range of musical expression, from original Buster Keaton film scores, to arrangements for extended ensembles with horns and strings (Blues Dream, History, Mystery, Unspeakable); collaborations with bassist Viktor Krauss and drummer Jim Keltner (Gone, Just Like a Train, Good Dog, Happy Man); an album with Nashville musicians (Nashville), a solo album (Ghost Town), a collection of traditional American folk songs and originals inspired by them (The Willies), and two trio albums with jazz legends Dave Holland/Elvin Jones and Ron Carter/Paul Motian. The Intercontinentals blends Frisell’s brand of American roots music with Brazilian, Greek, and Malian influences. Disfarmer was inspired by the work of the mid-century rural Arkansas photographer Mike Disfarmer.
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, and Meet the Composer, among others. Upon San Francisco Jazz opening their doors, he served as one of their Resident Artistic Directors. Most recently, Frisell was commissioned to compose and perform a new composition in San Francisco by the Freshgrass Festival.
“It’s hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell. Mixing rock and country with jazz and blues, he’s found what connects them: improvisation and a sense of play.”
—The New York Times
“Frisell is a revered figure among musicians—like Miles Davis and few others, his signature is built from pure sound and inflection; an anti-technique that is instantly identifiable.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
Tickets, priced starting at $20 for adults and $10 for full-time Pepperdine students, are available now by calling (310) 506-4522 or visiting arts.pepperdine.edu. More information about Frisell is available at billfrisell.com.
The Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University provides high-quality activities for over 50,000 people from over 1,000 zip codes annually through performances, rehearsals, museum exhibitions, and master classes. Located on Pepperdine’s breathtaking Malibu campus overlooking the Pacific, the Center serves as a hub for the arts, uniquely linking professional guest artists with Pepperdine students as well as patrons from surrounding Southern California communities. Facilities include the 450-seat Smothers Theatre, the 118-seat Raitt Recital Hall, the “black box” Helen E. Lindhurst Theatre, and the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art.</
WHAT: Bill Frisell “When You Wish Upon a Star” featuring Petra Haden, Thomas Morgan, & Rudy Royston
WHEN: Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
TICKETS: (310) 506-4522 or arts.pepperdine.edu
PRICES: $20–$45 for adults, $10 for Pepperdine students
The eleventh week and ninth year series of Sunset Jazz at Newport finished Wednesday evening, September 19, 2018 with the exceptional big band of Tom Kubis wowing the entire audience. Kubis has had his band and many of his member musicians for thirty years. He has written many, many arrangements over the years and his band has a solid reputation for swinging in earnest all of the time. The band: Rusty Higgins, Eric Marienthal (alto saxes), Tom Kubis, (tenor sax and leader), Jay Mason (bari sax), Dave Richards, Gary Halopoff, Stan Martin, Jeff Bunnell (trumpets), Francisco Torres, Fred Simmons, Joey Sellers and Rich Bullock (trombones), Jim Cox (piano), Mike Higgins (guitar), Kevin Axt (electric and acoustic bass), Ray Brinker (drums) and Nicole Kubis (vocals).
The Kubis band played the U.S.A. “Star Spangled Banner” honoring the duties of Rusty Higgins on alto sax opening the show, a lovely performance for all to enjoy. Next, a splendid version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” done in up tempo by the full band and giving leader Tom Kubis opportunity to play an early solo for this classic, along with an additional trumpet solo from Jeff Bunnell and trombone solo from Fred Simmons. This concert was fully packed with audience patrons enjoying this big band from the beginning and giving a lot of periodic applause, not only for the tunes but all the solos as well.
Rich Bullock played his trombone with the band for the wonderful tune, “In a Mellow Tone.” A big band always makes a stellar tune like this sound super great. Bullock’s bass trombone work fit in exactly right. Tom Kubis introduced his vocalist daughter, Nicole Kubis. Nicole has been singing with the band quite a long while and was very well received. She sang a famous standard, “Secret Love,” followed with a second number, “Come Dance with Me” with solo on trumpet from Gary Halopoff. Both of these two selections shined remarkably well.
In “My Romance” Rusty Higgins was the featured soloist, another great band arrangement from Kubis. Trombonist Torres played a great part in Juan Tizol’s “Caravan.” This was one of the best numbers of the night. Brinker played a long accentuated drum solo and a long cadenza finished the tune performed by Torres. Next, Dave Moody (t/s) was featured on another impressive Kubis arrangement of “Teach Me Tonight” with a fine piano solo from Jim Cox. A lot more audience applause was given throughout all parts of this concert. Ending the first set, a tune titled “SMB,” “Super Mario Brothers” theme, a rocking number with meaningful solos by Martin (trumpet), Marienthal (sax), Mason (bari sax) and Mike Higgins (guitar).
The second set moved very well, starting off with a tricky title, “Pop Goes the Weasel.” The band once again, featuring Moody (t/s) and Torres (t-bone) played not only tricky title, but a tricky arrangement as well. A rhythmic “Does Anyone Out There Still Boogaloo?” Marienthal and Sellers gave extended solos to again, a very rhythmic composition.
Nicole Kubis sang two more very groovy numbers: “There’ll Be Some Changes Made Today” and the well-known “Well Ok, You Win.” Nicole did some excellent scatting in the latter tune. Bassist, Kevin Axt was featured on his electric bass performing the lovely standard, “Stella by Starlight,” with the band backing him to a tee that included a well-placed solo by Higgins on guitar! An original and unusual piece was performed, “Cat Walk,” with very effective sound effects from the band. Stan Martin and Francisco Torres were featured once again.
Closing this two hour concert was a long remembered staple, “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home.” Soloing were: Cox (Piano) with a long cadenza, Bullock (Bass T-Bone), Sellers (T-Bone) and Torres (T-Bone).
The audience loved this brilliant band and gave them all a standing ovation.
While jazz patrons were leaving the Kubis band played the theme from the movie and TV series ” “Naked Gun,” “Police Squad.”
The Tom Kubis Band has a regular gig on Monday evenings in Long Beach at the Gas Lamp on the fourth Monday of each month except December. See the Kubis website: www.tomkubis.com
Many patrons from this year’s Sunset Jazz at Newport Ninth Year Series are looking forward to the Nineteenth Annual Newport Beach Jazz Party, February 14th through February 17th, 2019. See their website: www.NewportBeachJazzParty.com .
Glenn A. Mitchell