How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Inspired by the late great bassist Oscar Pettiford (1922-1960) who, after breaking his arm took up the cello is this project by the cellist Erik Friedlander. His Broken Arm Trio is a sweet downhome session full of homespun jazz. Together with bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Trio-Convulsant, Junk Genius) and drummer Mike Sarin (Thomas Chapin, Ben Allison, Mario Pavone) Friedlander puts down (for the most part) his bow to produce some inspired and folksy pizzicato playing.
While Friedlander has made his way through the jazz and downtown worlds playing with the likes of John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich; plus backing rock acts like Courtney Love, Joss Stone, and Dar Williams; he has also played solo, in duos, and led his own bands including Topaz and Chimera. This disc follows last years Block Ice & Propane, (Skipstone, 2007) a solo outing comprising both composed and improvised Americana music.
The thirteen tracks presented here (forget the misprinted CD citing only twelve) are instantly enjoyable. All pretensions are done away with, as Friedlander plucks nary a negative note. With tempos upbeat, the three swim in a sea of textured chamber music that touches on jazz, klezmer, folk, and small group interplay. Always the perfect accompanist, drummer Mike Sarin maintains his delicate touch throughout; whether it is scratching his cymbal or swinging his brushes in time as on "Pretty Penny," he is ever vigilant to the composition. For his part, Trevor Dunn has become a fully formed bassist able to maintain the time or play lead as he does whenever Friedlander calls for a switch.
Favorites here include the duo between bass and cello on the strolling blues "In The Spirit," and the bouncy opener "Spinning Plates" with its infectious melody. The different tunings and sounds provided by the cello and bass really bring this project to light. Friedlander seems to be opening his music to jazz and no-jazz fans. Much like Bill Frisell and Charlie Haden's open arm approach to jazz that can swallow both country and classical, Friedlander is pushing his vision into the open ended world defined simply as music. Like fellow cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm with his Fred Katz project, Friedlander suggests that popular music need not be stupid.
Track Listing: Spinning Plates; Pearls; Knife Points; Jim Zipper; Pretty Penny; Easy; Cake; Buffalo; Hop Skip;
Ink; Big Shoes; In the Spirit; Tiny's.
Personnel: Erik Friedlander: cello; Trevor Dunn: bass; Mike Sarin: drums.