William Richard Frisell (born March 18, 1951) is an American guitarist, composer and arranger. One of the leading guitarists in jazz since the late 1980s, Frisell came to prominence as a stalwart for ECM Records. He went on to work in a variety of contexts, notably as a member of the New York City Downtown Scene where he formed a long partnership with John Zorn. He was also a longtime member of Paul Motian‘s groups from the early 1980s until Motian’s death in 2011. Since 2000, Frisell’s eclectic output as a bandleader has emphasized folk, country music, and Americana.
Frisell was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but spent most of his youth in the Denver, Colorado, area. He studied clarinet with Richard Joiner of the Denver Symphony Orchestra as a youth, graduated from Denver East High School, and went to the University of Northern Colorado to study music.