Born in San Francisco to a musical family, (his mother was an opera singer), Don Friedman has been known for a long time as a musician's musician, never quite achieving the public notoriety his piano styling deserves. As a young man in San Francisco, he played with the créme de la créme of the West Coast jazz society like Shorty Rogers, Chet Baker, Buddy Collette, Ornette Coleman, Dexter Gordon and Scott LaFaro, quite an eclectic group of jazz stylists which set the groundwork for his playing for his career. His ability to fit in with all forms carried over to New York, where he moved in 1958. There he worked with the likes of Pepper Adams, Booker Little, Jimmy Giuffre, Charles Lloyd, Chuck Wayne, Dick Haymes, Elvin Jones and Herbie Mann. He made his first album in 1961. But much of his recorded work was never released in the US, but in Japan. This is beginning to be rectified as his 1960's LPs for Riverside have been reissued on CD. Hopefully the same will happen with his Progressive label LPs in the near future.
This quartet album is a balanced mix of standards and Friedman originals, with the former in the majority. The playing echoes his variegated background. Modernistic tendencies prevail on "Ricardo Bossa Nova". Matters turn to swing on Lester Young's "Tickle Toes" with some luminous tenor sax by Tom Butts. Friedman's "Match Point" is driving hard bop recalling Art Blakey's groups, with Frank Ferreri's drums pushing the pianist. Gary Mazzaroppi's bass comes into play in a significant way on this track. Introspectiveness dominates a very thoughtful "`Round Midnight" featuring a lovely Butts tenor statement. Then there's a comfortable rendition of "If you Could See Me Now". For four of the cuts, the group is joined by vocalist Alyse Levy. She shines especially bright on an up tempo "Time After Time" with her vocalizing taking on Lee Wiley tones on "There's No Such Thing as Love".
Match Point is 70 minutes of straightforward, well-conceived jazz music performed by a veteran master pianist and his highly skilled friends and it deserves a listen. Recommended.
Personnel: Don Friedman - Piano; Tom Butts - Tenor Sax; Gary Mazzaroppi - Bass; Frank Ferreri - Drums; Alyse Levy - Vocals*