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Fred Frith

In the '60s and '70s, much (if not most) contemporary improvisation was jazz-based. That began to change in the '80s, when a significant number of rock musicians began exploring the possibilities of free improvisation and new classical forms. Fred Frith is one of the more prominent. Co-founder of the underground British band Henry Cow in 1968, composer/improviser/guitarist Frith moved to the U.S. in the late '70s, where he began associations with such New York-based experimental musicians as cellist Tom Cora, harpist Zeena Parkins, saxophonist John Zorn, and percussionist Ikue Mori. Frith lived in New York for 14 years; some of his well-known ventures in that time included Massacre (with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher), Skeleton Crew (with Cora and Parkins), and his sextet Keep the Dog. In the '80s, Frith's compositional activities increased; he began writing for dance, film, and theater, and for such ensembles as the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Asko Ensemble, and his own Guitar Quartet. Primarily known as an improvising guitarist, Frith has also performed on bass (with Zorn's Naked City) and violin (with Lars Hollmer's Looping Home Orchestra). Frith has played on albums by the Residents, Brian Eno, Amy Denio, and René Lussier, to name just a few. Frith was the subject of Step Across the Border, a documentary film by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels. By 2000, Frith was a professor of composition at Mills College in Oakland, CA, and continued to release a bevy of albums including Eleventh Hour in 2005. In 2007, Frith began the year by releasing Impur and The Happy End Problem on ReR, and followed them with Sugar Factory and a live album (recorded at the N.Y.C. venue The Stone) on the Tzadik label, and finished it with Cutter Heads with Chris Brown on Intakt. Frith was less prolific in 2008 but nonetheless released the fine To Sail, to Sail on Tzadik. He picked up the pace in 2009, as Still Urban and The Big Picture saw issue on Intakt. He continued with three releases in 2010, including Dictée/Liber Novus and Eye to Ear, Vol. 3, which appeared on Tzadik, and Live in Japan for ReR. ~ Chris Kelsey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: To Sail, To Sail

1. Because Your Mama Wants You Home

2. Weather Gauge

3. Reconstructed

4. Life On Venus

5. Mondays

6. Life-Enhancing Interior

7. First Light

8. Scratch Orchestra

9. The Wrong Door

10. Circuit Breakers And Fuses

11. The Slightest Shiver

12. Sheep's Head, 1963

13. Life By Another Name

14. Dog Watch

15. Hopscotch Horizon

16. King Dawn

x

Track List: Allies - Music For Dance, Vol. Ii

1. Rifka

2. Small Mercy 1

3. Nenad

4. A Rock And A Hard Place

5. Davor And Dzeneta

6. Small Mercy 2

x

Track List: Freedom In Fragments

1. Freedom Is Your Friends

2. Advertising

3. Song And Dance

4. Void Where Prohibited

5. Boyan's Problem

6. Ikue's Song

7. T Square Park Lark

8. Significant Restrictions Apply

9. Hey Rene

10. Chained To The Skyway

11. Batteries Not Included

12. Water Under The Bridge

13. Freedom Is Your Friends II

x

Track List: Clearing

1. White (For Andy Goldsworthy)

2. Open Ocean

3. Chains

4. The Bow Moon

5. Minimalism (For Tomoko Itani)

6. Not With Love But With Fear

7. Theatre

8. Gaifu Kaisei (In Memory Of Akira Iijima)

9. Road Movie

10. This Earth Is A Flower

11. Blue (For Bill Frisell)

x

Track List: The Previous Evening

1. Part I (Homage to John Cage)

2. Part II (Homage to Morton Feldman)

3. Part III (Homage to Earle Brown)

x

Track List: Cheap At Half The Price (Remastered)

1. Some Clouds Don't

2. Cap The Knife

3. Evolution

4. Too Much Too Little

5. The Welcome

6. Same Old Me

7. Some Clouds Do

8. Instant Party

9. Walking Song

10. Flying In The Face Of Facts

11. Heart Bares

12. Absent Friends

13. The Great Healer

x

Track List: Back To Life

1. Seven Circles

2. Save As

3. Seven Circles 2

4. Bridge Is Bridge

5. Seven Circles 3

6. Seven Circles 4

7. Back To Life

8. Seven Circles 5

9. Seven Circles 6

10. Elegy For Elias

11. Seven Circles 7

Comments

Report as inappropriate
coydogrecord i n g
I first heard Henry Cow in the early 70's on a late night college station from Storrs CT and it completely blew my mind. Now Fred just keeps getting better and better.
Report as inappropriate
got turned on to fred in the 80s with laswell and material have some henry cow stuff to luv hearing his later stuff on here... prog music
Report as inappropriate
tl12
I'm a big Henry Cow and Art Bears fan. Hearing Frith's work there I followed it into most of his solo work. A very rewarding artist!
Report as inappropriate
I can't believe there are no comments about Fred Frith. Are my musical tastes really that obscure? The guy worked with the Ensemble Modern for f#@! sake. No comments yet America? Really? Traffic Continues needs to be listed in that discography. I think the list of people Fred Frith has worked with would read like who's who of modern day avant-garde musicians and composers. Sure would be nice if he and Cutler and Dagmar could get together on anything again in the future. What a combination!

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