P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2006
July 4, 2006
Bill Frisell Accompanies Film as MASS MoCA's Outdoor Film Series Continues with High Art Animation
Geniuses collide at MASS MoCA on Friday, August 4, at 8:30 PM when one of the most sought-after guitarists in contemporary music, Bill Frisell, performs live original music to two Buster Keaton shorts, a reimagining of 1926's The Mesmerist by Obie and Bessie award-winning filmmaker Bill Morrison, and animations by maverick cartoonist Jim Woodring. "Bill Frisell is the Clark Kent of the electric guitar. Soft-spoken and self-effacing in conversation, he apparently breathes in lungfuls of raw fire when he straps on his (guitar)," according to Spin magazine.
"It's hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music," The New York Times said of Frisell, continuing, "Mixing rock and country with jazz and blues, he's found what connects them: improvisation and a sense of play. Unlike other pastichists, who tend to duck passion, Mr. Frisell plays up the pleasure in the music and also takes on another often-avoided subject, tenderness."
Downbeat's 1998 Critic's poll awarded Bill Frisell's Nashville "Album Of The Year," and Frisell himself, "Guitarist Of The Year" in both 1998 and 1999. His Unspeakable won a 2005 Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Quartet won the prestigious Deutsche Schallplatten Preis (the German equivalent of a Grammy). After attending Berklee College of Music where he studied with John Damian, Herb Pomeroy and Michael Gibbs, Frisell moved to Belgium where he concentrated on writing music. Frisell has recorded three albums for ECM and dozens for Nonesuch Records. Over the years, Frisell has contributed to the work of such collaborators as Elvis Costello, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Suzanne Vega, John Scofield, Vernon Reid, Bono, and Brian Eno.
The Mesmerist from 1926 is an eerie screen gem that is literally disappearing into history. Morrison is known for his process of taking pre-existing footage from films which have been largely lost to the natural process of nitrate deterioration, and reconstituting them as artifacts for a new artistic product. This extraordinary film, re-edited by Bill Morrison from a deteriorated nitrate print of James Young's The Bells (1926), features Lionel Barrymore. In a dream, Barrymore is exposed as a murderer by the Mesmerist played by Boris Karloff. The film follows him into the psychedelic distortion of the fortune teller's tent, where he experiences his absolution as a hallucinatory vision of yet another reality. The film ends back in the reality of the dreamer.
Award-winning filmmaker Bill Morrison has seven titles in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, including Light Is Calling, Decasia and The Film of Her. MASS MoCA visitors will recognize him from his work on Anatomy Theater, a work-in-progress opera by David Lang and Mark Dion presented in North Adams in March 2006. His work has been screened at The Tate Modern, Lincoln Center, The Whitney Museum, London's ICA, Carnegie Hall, The Wexner Center, BAM, and The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum, among many other venues. His films have been broadcast on PBS, The Sundance Channel, and Arté, and have been featured at international film festivals worldwide, such as Sundance, Rotterdam, San Francisco and Edinburgh. His projected set work with the acclaimed performance ensemble Ridge Theater has been recognized with two "Bessie" awards for excellence in theatrical design (1993, 2003) and a Village Voice Obie for collaborative design (2001). Morrison has received grants from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, The 2004 NEA Creativity Grant, NYSCA, NYFA and Creative Capital.
One Week was the first Buster Keaton-directed film to be released to the public (The High Sign was made earlier but shelved for several months). Based on a now-obscure educational short called Home Made, it involves a build-it-yourself house given to Keaton and his new bride. Unbeknownst to him, his wife's ex has changed the labels on the materials. Keaton does make the house in one week, as the instructions promised, but it comes out cockeyed and absurd. One of the top-grossing movies of 1920, even though it was only a two-reel short, this early Keaton film shows his penchant for big props including the house itself and a passing train. High Sign portrays the filmmaker as a drifter in search of a job. Passing himself off as a skilled marksman, he finds employment at a shooting gallery in an amusement park. But he gets more than he bargained for - a girl talks him into being a bodyguard for her father, who has run afoul of a gang. Once they hear of this, the Blinking Buzzards gang forcibly recruits him to snuff out his own charge.
Jim Woodring was born in Los Angeles in 1952 and "enjoyed a childhood full of hallucinations, apparitions, paranoia and waking dreams". In 1980 he began to catalog these experiences in a self-published autojournal, Jim. Fantagraphics Books published the first of ten issues of Jim in 1986. In 1991, Tundra published Woodring's Frank in the River which won two Harvey Awards and garnered widespread acclaim. Frank's adventures continued in Tantalizing Stories, co-created with Mark Martin. Fantagraphics has put out two issues of Frank Comics, and a third is in the works. Woodring's work has appeared in Wired, World Art, The Whole Earth Catalog, Print, The Kenyon Review, the Coe Review and Seattle's The Stranger, where he has a weekly cartoon. His Frank comics have been reprinted in French, German, English, Dutch, Italian, Serbian and Australian Publications. Woodring lives in Seattle with his family and "residual phenomena".
The event will be held outside, weather permitting.
Tickets for Bill Frisell takes on Keaton, Woodring, and Morrison are $22 in advance or $26 the day of the show. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). In July and August the galleries and box office are open 10 - 6 every day. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release