In recent years, bassist Thomas Morgan has performed widely with guitar legend Bill Frisell in trio, quartet, and quintet formats, but it is in their duets that their extraordinary musical rapport is experienced at its most intimate and conversational. The duo returns to Roulette on January 5th for their only 2019 appearance, performing music from their celebrated 2017 album Small Town and the soon-to-be released second volume, Epistrophy, both recorded live at the Village Vanguard and released on ECM Records.
Bill Frisell’s career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 40 years and many celebrated recordings, whose catalog has been cited by Downbeat as “the best recorded output of the decade”.
Released March of 2018, Frisell’s latest album for OKeh/Sony is a solo album titled, Music IS —
“Taken as a whole the album beautifully encapsulates Frisell’s depth and range in all its meditative glory.” – Chicago Reader.
It was recorded in August, 2017 at Tucker Martine’s Flora Recording and Playback studio in Portland, Oregon and produced by longtime collaborator Lee Townsend. All of the compositions on Music IS were written by Frisell, some of them brand new – Change in the Air, Thankful, What Do You Want, Miss You and Go Happy Lucky – others being solo adaptations of now classic original compositions he had previously recorded, such as Ron Carter, Pretty Stars, Monica Jane, and The Pioneers. In Line, and Rambler are from Frisell’s first two ECM albums.
Frisell’s previous project, the Grammy nominated When You Wish Upon a Star also with OKeh/Sony, germinated at Lincoln Center during his two-year appointment as guest curator for the Roots of Americana series (September ’13 – May ’15). It features Frisell with vocalist Petra Haden, Eyvind Kang (viola), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) performing Frisell’s arrangements and interpretations of Music from Film and Television. Jazz Times described the project as follows: “unforgettable themes are the real draw here, reconfigured with ingenuity, wit and affection by Frisell and a terrific group.”
“Frisell has had a lot of practice putting high concept into a humble package. Long hailed as one of the most distinctive and original improvising guitarists of our time, he has also earned a reputation for teasing out thematic connections with his music… There’s a reason that Jazz at Lincoln Center had him program a series called Roots of Americana.” – New York Times
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 new documentary film by director Emma Franz, entitled Bill Frisell: A Portrait, which examines his creative process in depth.
Thomas Morgan is a double bass player with a unique approach to the instrument and an exceptional musical understanding. He has played on more than ninety recordings and toured all over the world as a member of bands led by Bill Frisell, Jakob Bro, Jim Black, Dan Weiss, Craig Taborn, Paul Motian, John Abercrombie, Dave Binney, Steve Coleman, and Tomasz Stanko, among many others. It is Thomas Morgan’s extraordinary way of being in the moment in music and putting his own signature on it that has made him one of the most in demand jazz bassists on the international scene.