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Bill Frisell, A Portrait - plays Seattle International Film Festival / KEXP Radio review

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You may very well have passed Bill Frisell on the streets of Seattle, and not even realized you were in the presence of one of the most admired and emulated jazz guitarists of our time. The Bainbridge Island-based musician has worked with such household names as Bono, Brian Eno, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, yet, he himself maintains a low profile, humble and soft-spoken, letting his music do all the talking.

It's for this reason that Bill Frisell, A Portrait is long overdue. It took a filmmaker from Australia - director Emma Franz - to get the Grammy Award-winning guitar genius talking. At one point, while filming Frisell on the streets of New York City, passersby keep stopping to stare, puzzling who this smiling man is. Frisell politely laughs, joking to Franz, "Little do they know, I'm one of them."

The documentary has no real narrative, letting the interview clips drive the film. Franz spent five years interviewing bandmates and collaborators, capturing some final interviews from drummer Paul Motian (who sadly passed in 2011) and guitarist/teacher Jim Hall (who sadly passed in 2013). There are also clips with saxophonist Joe Lovano, drummer Joey Baron, composer Mike Gibbs, pianist Jason Moran, and the list goes on and on. As an artist whose career spans nearly 50 years, it may be fair to say he's worked with hundreds of musicians, and it's not surprising that each and every one confirms: he is the nicest guy in music. Franz also shares footage from several rehearsal sessions, live performances at sold out venues, and practice sessions as Frisell collaborates with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by composer Michael Gibbs (who is, incidentally, a former teacher of Frisell's at Boston's Berklee College of Music back in the mid-70s). Bill Frisell, A Portrait - screened at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 23.  READ THE FULL KEXP: Seattle REVIEW