Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

732

Erik Friedlander: Cello Ahead

Ludovico Granvassu By

Sign in to view read count
People seem not to know what to expect when you sit down in a band with a cello. Many after a concert come and tell me 'Oh, Cello is my favorite instrument!' It is both a compliment and a curse: they seem to really love the lyrical, warm, beautiful side of the cello. That's fine but there's also this whole other kind of playing that I am into.
Together with artists like Ernst Reijseger, Vincent Courtois, Peggy Lee, Fred Lonberg-Holm or Rufus Cappadocia, Erik Friedlander is one of the 'new wave' of cellists in jazz and improvised music. Oscar Pettiford, Harry Babasin, Sam Jones and Ray Brown pioneered the introduction of cello in jazz, but they mainly were bassists (like later Ron Carter, Buell Neidlinger and Dave Holland). Innovators like Chico Hamilton, Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler and Julius Hemphill, envisaged a greater role for the cello relying on Fred Katz, Nat Gershman, Ron Carter, Joel Friedman or Abdul Wadud to break new grounds. The next generation, Trinstan Honsinger, Tom Cora, David Eyges, Hank Roberts, showed how, despite mainstream's neglect, cello could greatly contribute to the developments of the jazz's vanguard. With Erik Friedlander and his contemporaries, cello has come full circle. They have proven the versatility of this instrument and are not seen anymore as cellists that improvise, but as improvisers that happen to play the cello in a jazz world ever more open to other music traditions, new sounds and instruments. Erik Friedlander's musical path started early in his life. Whereas most young kids are told by their parents to decrease the volume of their stereos, Erik was used to wake up with the loud music his father Lee was playing in the dark room where he developed pictures.

Erik Friedlander: My father spent a lot of his working years photographing for record companies, mainly Atlantic Records, [his pictures adorn seminal albums like In a Silent Way, Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, This Is Our Music, Blues and Roots, The New Tristano ]. Early in the morning he'd be in the dark room playing loud music: Bach, R&B, lots of jazz... So I grew up waking up to music that came blasting from the living room. I started guitar early, 1st/2nd grade; in 3rd grade I went to a public school that offered music courses, as they did at that time; they gave me the choice between violin and cello. I picked the cello and I still don't know why; maybe the teacher thought that I was tall. I went home and started making awful noises. I never took it too seriously until at 20 I met Harvie Swartz, the great bassist who played with Stan Getz. He told me about a group he had with cello and he invited me to his loft and we just started working. This experience opened up my ears and my brain and made me understand what was possible.

AAJ: To what degree did being seen as a 'cellist' rather than just a jazz musician or improviser, when you were playing improvised music, frustrate you? EF: For me it was more about just not being very happy with what I was doing. After playing with Harvie Swartz and his group I became inactive. I had no jobs improvising. I had to work like a bank teller or a copy editor but my goal was to work as a musician so I became much more of a classical in symphony orchestras, chamber groups' By the age of 30 I was very busy but very unhappy because I was not doing creative music. At that point I consciously decided that I needed a change. I just had to do it. I was not worried about if other musicians had done it before. People seem not to know what to expect when you sit down in a band with a cello. Many after a concert come and tell me "Oh, cello is my favorite instrument!" It is both a compliment and a curse: they seem to really love the lyrical, warm, beautiful side of the cello. That's fine but there's also this whole other kind of playing that I am into.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity Interview Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 8, 2017
Read Aaron Goldberg: Exploring the Now Interview Aaron Goldberg: Exploring the Now
by Luke Seabright
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Pat Metheny: Driving Forces Interview Pat Metheny: Driving Forces
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 10, 2017
Read Bill Anschell: Curiosity and Invention Interview Bill Anschell: Curiosity and Invention
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 9, 2017
Read Tomas Fujiwara: The More the Better Interview Tomas Fujiwara: The More the Better
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 6, 2017
Read "Ralph Towner: The Accidental Guitarist" Interview Ralph Towner: The Accidental Guitarist
by Mario Calvitti
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity" Interview Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Remembering Art Farmer" Interview Remembering Art Farmer
by Lazaro Vega
Published: April 19, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!