Bob DeVos and Don FriedmanNyack Library Carnegie RoomNyack, NYJune 29, 2012The spate of live performances that expressly pay tribute to various figures from bygone eras of jazz raises a number of complex questions about the music and the business which surrounds it. Do concerts and club dates in honor of musicians ranging from Duke Ellington to Louis Prima represent a marketing ploy to attract listeners who are reluctant to venture out to hear performers with unfamiliar names? Are these events exercises in recreating the music's storied past? Or, are they a tacit admission that jazz ...read more
Don Friedman Waltz For Marilyn Jazz Excursion Records 2007
In jazz, for all of its love of the all-star session, the long-term collaboration is of utmost importance. There have been many such relationships: bassist Charles Mingus and reed player Eric Dolphy, saxophonist John Coltrane and drummer Elvin Jones, trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist Wayne Shorter. When players reach a level of understanding, notions of leaders and sidemen or soloists and accompanists become superfluous. One such association is that of pianist Don Friedman and guitarist Attila Zoller. The two, on ...read more
The impressive vita and discography of Don Friedman are but touchstones to the musicianship of this pianist who, like Kenny Barron and Hank Jones, navigates the jazz mainstream while remaining perpetually fresh if not cutting edge. On Waltz for Marilyn the seasoned veteran is joined by three like-minded, proven young musicians who bring the leader's conceptions to realization while making strong statements of their own. It's as though the pianist's flowing inventiveness has been magnified by four.
The program is practically a cross-section of jazz styles from the past sixty years, striking an optimal balance between ensemble cohesion and individual ...read more
It is no coincidence that jazz emerged around the same time that Edison invented the phonograph. Both jazz and recording by electrical impulses were among the early signs of modernity. Furthermore, jazz is an improvisational form of music that is composed as it is performed, and, unlike classical music with its well-tempered scale and relatively uniform standards, jazz is almost impossible to notate in more than its barest outlines. The only viable way to preserve it is on recordings. Recordings are the footprints of the jazz Goliath as it wends its way through time. However, unlike live performances, the only ...read more
Don Friedman Trio with Gary Smulyan Kitano Lounge New York, NY March 9, 2007
Without any fanfare Don Friedman's piano a cappella intro to Alone Together intricately established the melody and sequence of his first performance on Friday the 9th of March 2007 before the evening's lead instrument, an antique green-tinged brass saxophone played by the youthful Gary Smulyan--bespeckled above, soul patch below and wearing a beret on top--stood in the piano curve improvising with the power of a full-ranged baritone saxophonist supported by Doug Weiss on a gorgeous dark-maroon wooded, recently repaired ...read more
At a venerable 71 years old, California-born pianist Don Friedman still has his formidable technique firmly in place. He's playing with the attack of a young man--and the devil-may-care abandon of a mature artist wholly at ease with himself.
The subtitle From A To Z refers to Friedman's friend and collaborator, the Hungarian guitarist Attila Zoller (1927-98), to whose memory this album is dedicated. Friedman and Zoller first played together in Herbie Mann's band in the early 1960s, and by mid-decade they were leading their own West Coast-based quartet.
The reason why Friedman has waited eight years to record this ...read more
Bill Evans Trio At Shelly's Manne-Hole Riverside/Concord 2006
He's been gone since 1980, over a quarter century. Yet Bill Evans' influence continues to grow. This 1963 session, with Chuck Israels (bass) and Larry Bunker (drums) at Shelly Manne's famed Hollywood club, is like the superb Complete Village Vanguard Recordings 1961 (Riverside, 2005)--an opportunity to savor hearing him captured in a live performance. What's heard here and on the rest of the Manne-Hole sets on Time Remembered (Milestone), as well as on the Vanguard set with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, is Evans ...read more
This group featured on this album, yet another in the happy slew of recordings coming out from Don Friedman in the last few years, is billed as the Salzau Trio. What this means is that on the occasion of Friedman's invitation to the 14th Annual JazzBaltica Festival in Salzau, Germany, he convened a trio with regular bassist Martin Wind and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington for a first-time appearance. The result, a set from July 3, 2004, was recorded and released by the German Skip Records label.Friedman turned seventy last May and occupies a singular place in today's piano ...read more
Pianist Don Friedman's sessionography reads like a jazz encyclopedia. A favorite choice on the keys for his tasteful yet progressive playing, he has played with luminaries from Booker Little to Jimmy Giuffre to Clark Terry. Friedman now leads a piano trio and we spoke with him after a successful engagement at the Kitano in February. All About Jazz: Why did you move to New York from the West Coast? Don Friedman: I realized...that the greatest jazz music, the greatest players, when they would come out to California to play, they were all from New ...read more
One of the sweetest sounds in jazz is that of a well groomed piano trio. Many would agree, there's little to contend with an able-bodied threesome, flipping through the pages of this or that tune, together finding its cozy hearth in harmony and rhythm. Veteran pianist Don Friedman has found that center and, alongside bassist George Mraz and drummer Lewis Nash, tendered a second offering from their ensemble, this time entitled My Favorite Things. The trio's first release, '03's Waltz for Debby , was lauded by critics for its intimacy, warm tone and fiery interplay. And though sequels ...read more
Somewhere Attila Zoller is smiling, pleased to see to his one-time foil, pianist Don Friedman, playing to a full audience at the Jazz Standard last month in support of his new album Waltz for Debby. Those giddy days of the Zoller-Friedman quartet days are long past, but Don Friedman has lost little of the touch that made him a darling of that vague area between hard bop and avant-garde bubbling in the '60s. Most know Friedman now for his role in the quintet of the venerable trumpeter Clark Terry, but the pianist has been steadily releasing albums ...read more
At the dire risk of committing gratuitous alliteration, there are four un"s that apply to Don Friedman's playing: under-recorded, under-rated, uncluttered, and unpretentious. A West Coast veteran who's played with Herbie Mann, Charles Lloyd, and Ornette Coleman, he's not a household name but is instantly engaging with his clean touch and bright, flowing sound. Like any lyrical pianist, he's been compared to Bill Evans; there is some harmonic similarity, but Friedman is more driving, and his version of Waltz for Debby" swings hard. He couldn't have better backup in George Mraz and Lewis Nash, two gentlemen with huge ears and ...read more
Many modern jazz fans consider the 1960s as the creative apogee of the music. The abundance of top-flight musicians, coupled with a near continuous stream of boundary breaking innovations, made for a creatively explosive combination. The downside to this artistic boon was that many high caliber conceptualists got lost in the deluge.
A case could easily be made for counting Don Friedman among this number, as his early '60s albums for Riverside offered some of the most ingenious variations on the piano trio format of the era. Sadly, they were largely overshadowed by more overtly provocative offerings ...read more
Sixty-seven year old pianist Don Friedman has followed up his very fine 1999 recording, Match Point . Here we find the pianist with a new group and a new label. The music is of the same high quality as his previous recordings. A fixture on the West coast during the 1950s, Friedman performed with the likes of Dexter Gordon, Shorty Rogers, Buddy DeFranco, and Chet Baker. This prepared him for his solo career, which has been proceeding since his first recording, A Day In The City (OJC 1775, 1961). On Attila's Dream , the very fine guitarist Andrew Cheshire, bassist ...read more
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