"The electric guitar sound of the decade - oozing, cloudy enveloping - belongs to jazz renegade Bill Frisell…Like the best artists in any field, Frisell is not a slave to his tools; he's the creator who gives them new validity...His guitar sound is unmistakable - billowing, breathlike, multi-hued, immense at times, almost palpable. Frisell's music is accessible and avant-garde, a lyrical victory of man over machine, of personality over mechanics, of message over mathematics."
"Frisell has an airbrushed attack, a stunning timbral palette and a seemingly innate inability to produce a gratuitous note." Musician has described his guitar style as "modern in the best sense of the word, straddling the electronic ambiance and distortion of contemporary rock and the nuances of touch and harmonic sophistication usually associated with jazz."
"With his respectful if improbable eclecticism and audible ethnic guitar roots, Frisell is the new music's Ry Cooder...His engagingly droll sense of humor is never far from the surface; no one else's persistent dissonances sound so consistently congenial."
““Bill Frisell plays the guitar like Miles Davis played the trumpet: in the hands of such radical thinkers, their instruments simply become different animals. And, like Davis, Frisell loves to have a lot of legroom when he improvises--the space that terrifies others quickens his blood."”
““Frisell just has a knack for coaxing the most inviting sounds out of the instrument, and the composition skills to put them in just the right order. Combine a Colorado youth given to soul and C&W with solid jazz training, abetted by a decade-long residency in the heart of NYC's avant scene, multiplied by a fun factor of X (he has scored Buster Keaton's films) and you've got a recipe damn near perfection.””
"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)...His music is not what is typically called jazz, though it turns on improvisation; it's not rock'n roll; and it sure ain't that tired dinosaur called fusion. In one of the biggest leaps of imagination since the Yardbirds and Jimi Hendrix, Frisell coaxes and slams his hovering split-toned ax into shapes of things to come...But besides being a guitar genius, he's turned into a terrific songwriter. Like Monk, Frisell's harmonic and melodic ideas form a succinct, seamless mesh with outer sonic and rhythmic ideas about his ax."
"For over ten years Bill Frisell has quietly been the most brilliant and unique voice to come along in jazz guitar since Wes Montgomery. In light of this, it may be easy to overlook the fact that he may also be one of the most promising composers of American music on the current scene."
““Frisell is a revered figure among musicians – like Miles Davis and few others, his signature is built from pure sound and inflection; an anti-technique that is instantly identifiable.””
"It's hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell. 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."
“Sign of Life, recorded with the virtuosic 858 Quartet—violinist Jenny Scheinman, violist Eyvind Kang and cellist Hank Roberts—challenges the perceptions of a classical quartet. Frisell’s emotive depth and textural lay- ering push the music toward an artier realm bordering on contemporary clas- sical, but with a spatial, earthbound feel. Elements of Aaron Copeland mix with Marvin Gaye, Eastern rhythms col- lide with ‘70s-soundtrack-esque pas- sages and even old-timey traditions make a brief appearance. It’s a diverse album that reveals new delights with each spin.”