Jazz cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm pays tribute on this Valentine
to his predecessor, the composer/arranger Fred Katz. Just as Katz did with Chico Hamilton's bands of the 1950's, Lonberg-Holm proves the cello doesn't have to be the redheaded stepchild of the double bass. Katz, a classically trained cellist and student of Pablo Casals, plied his craft in settings from cool jazz to the outward reaches of Eric Dolphy and Ken Nordine's spoken-word jazz.
Lonberg-Holm followed a similar path through classical composition and avant-music, studying with Morton Feldman and Anthony Braxton and immersing himself into the New York Downtown scene of John Zorn. He eventually settled into the Chicago area and has worked (like seemingly all creative Chicago musicians) in multiple bands from pop-oriented to jazz and free improvisation. He can be heard on recordings by the Boxhead Ensemble, The Flying Luttenbachers, Peter Brotzmann's Tentet, and Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
This ingeniously simple disc, conceived to be a sincere tribute to Fred Katz, is a brilliant forty minutes of music. Together with bassist Jason Roebke (Scott Fields Ensemble, Eric Roth) and drummer Glenn Kotche (Sinister Luck Ensemble, Wilco, Boxhead Ensemble) FLH demonstrates the inherent expressive nature of his instrument. They play straight and tender versions of "My Funny Valentine and "Autumn Leaves, and cover six Katz compositions. From the shaded opening two tracks to the Django Reinhardt swing of "I Know and the speeded up "I Know II FLH displays the full versatility of the often neglected (in jazz) instrument. Bassists Dave Holland and Ron Carter have doubled on this instrument, but it is FLH that makes his cello sound very much like a Ron Carter bass solo on "Pluck It. Their version of "The Squimp, a cartoon passage, is ripe with barnyard action and the metal clangs of a Warner Brothers soundtrack. A touchingly beautiful recording, this is sure to be one of the best discs of 2002.
Personnel: Fred Lonberg-Holm: (Cello); Jason Roebke: (Bass); Glenn Kotche: (Drums)