Pianist Don Friedman first collaborated with Hungarian guitarist Attila Zoller as part of Herbie Mann's 1964-66 rhythm section. But the pair first explored the depths of their musical relationship in this excellent and aptly titled quartet session. Recorded in 1964, the same year Zoller won Down Beat's Talent Deserving Wider Recognition award, Dreams and Explorations is a challenging, evocative program of creative, improvised music that is never as predictable as traditional bop nor as ponderous, pretentious or piercing as free jazz.
There is an "open" quality to the music that allows for both interaction and exploration, yet the listener is never baffled by any journey any one musician takes. The three jazz standards ("Israel," "Darn That Dream" and "You Stepped Out of A Dream") are instructive of the quartet's investigative methodology (reminiscent of the boundaries from which Paul Bley was breaking free during the same period). But the real beauty lies in the less structured journeys the two leaders conceive. There is Friedman's 'unwritten' "Episodes" and the twelve tone rows of "Park Row. Then there's Zoller's freer "Exploration" and the intriguing freedom-in-a-foundation of "Blizzard." The thesis is movement, or the ability to inspire motion. It is about the musicians' ability to explore at will and the listener's intuition to be moved (physically or emotionally) by the sounds. A daunting concept. But it actually works. Zoller achieves a beautiful sound that is filled with fluid, always assured conceptions and Friedman glides so effortlessly over wide-reaching ideas, that you are dazzled by the sparkle of his imagination only after the fact.
Friedman and Zoller, having sensed such a powerful musical chemistry, recorded in more duo situations (until Zoller's death earlier this year). But this is the one to hear. It's perhaps one of the greatest, unsung achievements in jazz during the sixties. Essential jazz listening.
Tracks:Episodes; Exploration; Park Row; Blizzard; Israel; Darn That Dream; You Stepped Out of a Dream.
Personnel: Don Friedman: piano; Attila Zoller: guitar; Dick Kniss: bass; Dick Berk: drums.