Bill Frisell's renowned career as a guitarist and composer has spanned decades. Known for his melodic, elegantly playful style, he's released countless recordings, and collaborated with musicians like Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, and Brian Eno.

He's bringing his jazz and American folk music-influenced project Harmony to Winston-Salem on September 3 as part of the Crossroads concert series at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA). He'll be joined on stage by vocalist Petra Haden, cellist Hank Roberts, and bassist Luke Bergman.

Bill Frisell spoke with WFDD's Eddie Garcia.


On staying creatively healthy during the pandemic:

The first thing I did was just grab my guitar and start. I mean, I hadn't been able to really do that. It's been so many years since I had complete blank space out in front of me. That was kind of amazing for a minute anyway, just to be able to play with no, you know, I had no deadlines, or no nothing really, it was just for the sheer joy of playing and realizing, “Wow, I still love playing guitar, even after all these years.”

On the spirit of collaboration:

That was the hardest thing about this last year. Really, that's everything for me. That's really how I learned, you know? I've had incredible teachers along the way, that's for sure. But just being in a room together with people, you learn more in five minutes that way than you do just sitting around playing scales or something.

On playing solo:

When I'm playing even with just one other person, my attention goes away from my own head and towards whatever's going on around me. And playing solo, you're just in your own brain all the time. And you start using other things as the collaborators, like even just the silence.

On improvisation:

I'll try to have some structure that we all understand and go by, but then my hope is, even if we play the same song — or even could be the same melodies or same parts or whatever — but every time you do it, I want to be surprised, you know? And, again, that's exciting; I want things to always be on the edge of what we know.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This transcript was lightly edited for clarity.


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