Multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Fred Frith has been active across a broad spectrum of music-making since the late 1960s, starting with the iconic rock collective Henry Cow. In a career spanning almost 50 years, Fred is renowned as a ground-breaking electric guitarist, improviser, and composer for dance and film. Through bands like Art Bears, Massacre, Skeleton Crew, the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, and Cosa Brava, he has managed to keep one foot in the rock world while branching out into whatever other musical fields pique his curiosity.
His compositions have been performed by groups ranging from Arditti Quartet and the Ensemble Modern to Concerto Köln, from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra to ROVA Sax Quartet, from Robert Wyatt to Hieronymus Firebrain. Film music credits include Rivers and Tides by Thomas Riedelsheimer, The Tango Lesson by Sally Potter, Werner Penzel’s Zen for Nothing, and Peter Mettler’s Gods, Gambling and LSD. His collaborations with choreographer Amanda Miller have continued for over 20 years. An extensive catalogue of recordings is available on Tzadik, Winter & Winter, Intakt, ReR, and his own label Fred Records, among others.
Fred has performed or recorded with key figures in contemporary music including, for example, Lotte Anker, Derek Bailey, Gavin Bryars, Sylvie Courvoisier, Alvin Curran, Brian Eno, Evelyn Glennie, George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Butch Morris, Bob Ostertag, Zeena Parkins, The Residents, Christian Wolff, and John Zorn.
Since 1999 he has taught composition and improvisation at Mills College in Oakland, California, along with masterclasses, workshops and/or lectures throughout Europe, North and South America, and in Australia and Japan. Apart from teaching in Basel and at Mills, he is guest professor at the Universidad Austral in Valdivia, Chile. Fred is the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels’ award-winning documentary film Step Across the Border.