David Friesen and Jeff Gardner: Grace (2002)
Small places, big faces...The smaller and more intimate the jazz combo becomes, the greater the musical distillation and exposure to the elements of the listener. It is always a high-wire act when jazz musicians reduce to a trio or less. The trio offers the bare minimum of a rhythm section of bass and drums and a lead instrument like a piano, guitar, or a reed. The duo typically reduces this further, like a fine sauce or rue, often to the piano and brass or reed or the exquisite bass and piano. The latter case is what we have on Grace. New York pianist Jeff Gardner joins forces with bassmeister David Friesen playing his novel Hermage Bass. Friesen ends up the true star here as he has received a good deal of press recently.
This is a beautiful and glistening recording. Pianist Gardner, who infuses them with a shimmering personality that cascades from the speakers, composed the lion's share of pieces on the recording. He and Friesen share an empathy and telepathy that recalls Blanton/Ellington, Gomez/Evans, and Pedersen/Peterson. Both musicians make excellent use of the close, intimate quarters provided by the jazz duet. By its very nature the music produced is thoughtful and reflective, amply demonstrating both men's considerable talent. When listening for the first time, I recommend that the listener play the final cut, "My Funny Valentine." It will adequately whet your interest and prepare you for the rest of this fine recording.
Track Listing: Esquecendo; Blues For Hawk; Grace; All The Things You Are; Change Of Heart; Preludio Para Rita; Achados E Perdidos; Dad's Dream; Mr. Vertigo; My Funny Valentine. (Total Time: 73:53).
Personnel: David Friesen-- bass; Jeff Gardner-- piano