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Fred Frith

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Biography

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 was one of the most prominent figures in the new free improvisation community, and continued to do vital work well into the 21st century. Co-founder of the underground British band Henry Cow in 1968 (and the post-HC group Art Bears), 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 French Frith Kaiser Thompson) and violin (with Lars Hollmer's Looping Home Orchestra, among others). Frith has played on albums by the Residents, Brian Eno, Amy Denio, and René Lussier, to name just a few, and he was the subject of Step Across the Border, a documentary film by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel. By 2000, Frith was a professor of composition at Mills College in Oakland, California, and he also teaches at the Musik Akademie in Basel, Switzerland. He 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, followed them with Sugar Factory and a live album (recorded at the N.Y.C. venue The Stone) on the Tzadik label, and finished the year 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. In addition to his solo releases, Frith performed and recorded with a rich variety of collaborators, including the groups Cosa Brava, Death Ambient, and the Fred Frith Trio, as well as individual artists Evan Parker, John Butcher, Darren Johnston, Lotte Anker, and Hans Koch (the latter of whom recorded the 2017 album You Are Here with Frith). ~ Chris Kelsey
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Top Tracks

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    Popularity
  2.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Adage A/ At Your Earliest by Ensemble Modern
  3.   Assuming They're Human
  4.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Gyrate/Adage B by Ensemble Modern
  5.   Cage de Fer
  6.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Not If I See You First by Ensemble Modern
  7.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Introduction/ Limbo by Ensemble Modern
  8.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): No Convenient Time by Ensemble Modern
  9.   Traffic Continues: Freeway/Shadow of a Tree on Sand by Ensemble Modern
  10.   An FF Bass Solo
  11.   The Confession by Henry Kaiser
  12.   Storytelling (For Eduardo Galeano): Chapter 2 by Lotte Anker
  13.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Monkey Lens Dipthong Stri by Ensemble Modern
  14.   Traffic Continues: Inadvertent Introduction by Ensemble Modern
  15.   Fourth Rail by Henry Kaiser
  16.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): a Good Top Tongue by Ensemble Modern
  17.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Any Other World by Ensemble Modern
  18.   Roy Rogers
  19.   The Golden Eighties
  20.   See Over by Henry Kaiser
  21.   Fifteen Blues by Henry Kaiser
  22.   The Live Trace by Henry Kaiser
  23.   Strandloper by Henry Kaiser
  24.   Special Rider Blues by Henry Kaiser
  25.   A Portrait of the Artists As Two Old Men by Henry Kaiser
  26.   Reading Glasses by Henry Kaiser
  27.   There Are Great Stories, We Must Lift Them featuring Jean-Pierre Drouet
  28.   Solo en Ré Mineur
  29.   Une Poignée de Clous
  30.   Traffic Continues: Lourdement Gai by Ensemble Modern
  31.   True Love
  32.   Black Glass by Henry Kaiser
  33.   Vinegar Minutes
  34.   But Does It Swing? by Henry Kaiser
  35.   Ketsui
  36.   Squirrely by Henry Kaiser
  37.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Adage D/Neither Fire Nor by Ensemble Modern
  38.   J'Aime la Musique
  39.   Élégie Électrique
  40.   Hard Time Killing Floor Blues
  41.   The Changing of Names
  42.   Major Nichols by Henry Kaiser
  43.   Objects Everyday
  44.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Nose at Nose by Ensemble Modern
  45.   Ornettology
  46.   Pachinko
  47.   It Moves...
  48.   Cutting to the Chase
  49.   Twisted Memories Give Way to the Angry Present
  50.   Life in Hell by Henry Kaiser
  51.   The Kirghiz Light
  52.   It Sings
  53.   Where Your Children Are
  54.   Traffic Continues: First Riddle by Ensemble Modern
  55.   Canadian Psycho
  56.   John S. French by Henry Kaiser
  57.   Drowsy Maggie
  58.   The Incarceration by Henry Kaiser
  59.   Dog Puppet Born Out of a Sock
  60.   Two Squares and Three Circles
  61.   Three Languages
  62.   One of Nature's Mistakes
  63.   Believing What We Read by Henry Kaiser
  64.   Will Remain Always featuring Jean-Pierre Drouet
  65.   Riaville Bump
  66.   Storytelling (For Eduardo Galeano): Chapter 1 by Lotte Anker
  67.   Sala Nera
  68.   Wool and Water by Henry Kaiser
  69.   Stick Figures, for 6 guitars/2 players by William Winant
  70.   Traffic Continues II: Gusto (For Tom Cora): Howdywhoola by Ensemble Modern
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