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Bill Frisell & Luke Bergman, JIJI, Brandon Ross & Stomu Takeishi, Yasmin Williams

New York Guitar Festival

Originally Aired: Tuesday, June 13, 2023


The New York Guitar Festival returns to The Greene Space for an action-packed two-part series! Closing out the festival is GRAMMY Award-winning jazz guitarist Bill Frisell with Luke Bergman, classical Korean guitarist JIJI, jazz guitarist Brandon Ross & Stomu Takeishi presents “For Living Lovers,” and inventive finger-style guitarist Yasmin Williams who will upend your ideas of what a guitar is.

New Sounds host John Schaefer will speak with the musicians onstage. 


Since its founding in 1999 by David Spelman, the Artistic Director of the festival, and WNYC’s John Schaefer, host of the New Sounds radio series, the NYGF has taken advantage of the instrument’s unique ability to find a way into almost every kind of music we make. For over twenty years, the NYGF has presented creative programs that feature some of the best-known guitar heroes of our time, as well as extraordinary talents that the festival’s producers, David Spelman and WNYC’s John Schaefer, have uncovered. Over the course of two evenings, the NYGF will present 7 acts reflecting the guitar’s incredible diversity.

Bill Frisell

Credit: Photo by Monica Jane Frisell

Wikipedia says Bill Frisell “is an American jazz guitarist.” Well they got “American” and “guitarist” right. Frisell has indeed played jazz, but also country, rock, West African, classical, and lots of less easily defined styles of music. Widely considered to be one of the great guitarists of our time, he is the subject of a new biography called Bill Frisell: Beautiful Dreamer.

Luke Bergman

Credit: Photo provided by Guest

Luke Bergman is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and recording artist based in Seattle, WA. His voice, bass and guitar work have been utilized in groups he writes for like Heatwarmer as well as sideperson work with Bill Frisell, Cuong Vu, Andrew Bird and others. His output as a solo artist focuses on his arranging abilities of jazz, folk and pop repetoire. He’s made an album of solo guitar, and multiple albums that feature his pedal steel guitar playing. His most recent release, “Worx,” is a home-recorded collection of ten original compositions. Recording all the instruments he plays, the album focuses on contrapuntal melodies and creative orchestration and has the feeling of the soundtrack of “Donkey Kong Country as a Hallmark movie.”


Credit: Photo by Marty Bra

Selected by The Washington Post as “one of the 21 composers/performers who sound like tomorrow,” JIJI is renowned for her virtuosic performances that encompass a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from traditional and contemporary classical to free improvisation, played on both acoustic and electric guitars.

In 2016, she won First Prize at the Concert Artists Guild competition, becoming the first guitarist to be awarded this honor in thirty years. She recently signed on with Kirshbaum Associates in New York City to be represented by the agency worldwide.

JIJI’s performances have been featured on PBS (WHYY’s On Stage at Curtis series), NPR’s From the Top, WHYY-TV, FOX 4-TV, Munchies (the Vice Channel), The Not So Late Show (Channel 6, Kansas), and Hong Kong broadcast station RTHK’s The Works.

Brandon Ross

Credit: Photo provided by Artist

As a performing and recording artist, guitarist and composer Brandon Ross has worked and collaborated with several innovative voices in modern music such as Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Cassandra Wilson, Jewel, Bill Frisell and many others.

Ross has been previously commissioned by the ASCAP Foundation, New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA), and is a recipient of Rockefeller Foundation’s MAP Grant and Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works grant. He is a current ASCAP writer and publisher member. Ross’ teaching credits include Banff Summer Institute of Jazz and Creative Music, Princeton University’s Graduate Program in Composition, Artez Conservatorium of Arnhem (Netherlands), and Koninklijk Conservatorium, Antwerp (Belgium).

Yasmin Williams

Credit: Photo provided by Artist

Based in Alexandria, VA, Yasmin Williams is an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist and film composer. She has an unorthodox, modern style of guitar playing and utilizes various techniques including alternate tunings, percussive hits, and lap tapping in her music to great effect. Her “radiant sound and adventitious origins have made her a key figure in a diverse dawn for the solo guitar” (The New York Times). Williams’s music has been described as rich, harmonious, and “in a lot of ways, the joy and possibility she brings to the guitar reminds me more of Eddie Van Halen than any of the other fingerstyle guitarists to whom she’s compared” (NPR Music).

Her latest album, Urban Driftwood, was released on January 29, 2021 and has received critical acclaim from numerous major publications including The New York Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, NPR Music, The Fader, Wallstreet Journal, AllMusic, Paste Magazine, No Depression, and several other outlets. She was recently listed as one of the “25 New and Rising Artists Shaping the Future of Music in 2023” by Pitchfork.

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