Fred Frith


Born: 17th February 1949, Heathfield, England.

British composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist, who has situated himself for more than thirty years in the area where rock music and new music meet.

Played in R & B groups at school and did solo folk club work from 1967-1969. Began exploratory musical activities with [a292451] early in 1968 which led to the start [a282968].
Between times since then he has been involved with flautist [a147699] in the Ritual Theatre, played guitar in Brecht-Weill productions, taught guitar and ran a jazz workshop at Cambridge tech.

Co-founder of the British underground band "Henry Cow" (1968-78), Frith moved to New York in the late seventies and came into contact with many of the musicians with whom he’s since been associated, for example; John Zorn; Ikue Mori; Tom Cora; Zeena Parkins and Bob Ostertag. Fourteen years in New York gave rise to groups like "Massacre" (with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher), "Skeleton Crew" (with Tom and Zeena), and "Keep the Dog", a sextet performing an extensive repertoire of Frith compositions.

In the eighties Frith began writing for dance, film, and theatre. This, in turn, led to his composing for "Rova Sax Quartet", "Ensemble Modern", "Asko Ensemble" and a number of other groups, including his own critically acclaimed "Guitar Quartet".

Best known world-wide as an improvisational guitarist, Frith has also performed in a variety of other contexts, playing bass in John Zorn’s "Naked City", violin in Lars Hollmer’s "Looping Home Orchestra" and guitar on recordings ranging from "The Residents" and René Lussier, to Brian Eno and Amy Denio. Frith was also the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels’ award-winning documentary film "Step Across The Border".

He became Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California, near his home with photographer [a498358] and their children, Finn and Lucia.