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David Friesen

Anyone acquainted with David Friesen's exceptional music quickly thinks of his creative universe. Ocean-deep in his sensitivity to the human spirit, Friesen is compassionate and his music founded on integrity and the pursuit of excellence.

Born in Tacoma, Washington May 6, 1942, he was raised in Seattle, though his first exposure to jazz music was at the age of 5 years in Spokane, Washington hearing in his home a friend of his sister Diane playing Boogie Woogie on his family’s upright piano. After this individual left the home, David went to the piano and tried to emulate what he had just heard…thus his musical career had just begun. His sister Diane played the piano and for many years growing up, together they would play four handed piano and spent many evenings playing the piano and singing. His parents Ben and Clara Friesen were not professional musicians, but his mother had played C Melody saxophone as a child and his father had a beautiful singing voice...especially at church David could hear his father’s beautiful voice harmonizing with the congregation when they would sing hymns. Far removed from the music world, His mother was a professional bowler and his father was a Life Insurance executive. However, both his parents supported his love for music and made it possible for David to explore music on many different instruments. His sister Diane’s love for the movies and acting as a child, eventually led her into a very successful career as an actress, her name known as Dyan Cannon .

David began playing the ukulele and the accordion at 10, and a guitar professionally at 16.Friesen's first exposure to jazz was Slim Gaillard in an L.A. club when he was underage and playing guitar.

At 19, while stationed with the U.S. Army in Paris, he sat in with George Arvanitas, Johnny Griffin and Art Taylor. Then, in Copenhagen, he gigged with drummer Dick Berk and met Ted Curson in 1961. Back in the U.S., he became committed to the bass in 1964, practicing about ten hours a day. He was jamming in Seattle with local musicians - Larry Coryell and Randy Brecker were among his young compatriots - at such places as the Penthouse, where Miles, Coltrane and Bill Evans would perform; David would play opposite them and occasionally sat in with the visiting giants. Also, for two years Friesen played piano and bass at a coffee house called the Llahngaelhyn owned by bassist Jerry Heldman.

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"Once in a great while, a musician emerges with such authority and such seemingly effortless originality that his place in the front ranks of his instrument is unquestioned. So it is with David." —Nat Hentoff

"David Friesen is doing for the bass what Pythagoras did for triangles." —Patrick Hinely/Jazz Magazine

"Bassist David Friesen is a Phenomenon, a player whose musicianship, tone, time and imagination are uncategorizable." —Nat Hentoff

"One of the most eminent exponents of the instrument, he maintains an astonishing level of virtuosity." —Leonard Feather/Los Angeles Times

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Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Advanced only


Dear Musicians, Music Students,
My new lecture series Beyond the Note…Jazz Music Essentials, is based on my experience over the past 60 years, performing in concerts and recording with jazz legends, my own groups and presenting jazz workshops worldwide in over 31 countries including the USA.

This lecture series has 10 topics discussed and are between 45-60 minutes each. The topics are:

  1. Learning to Follow the Music in a Small Ensemble context
  2. Listening and Communication
  3. Time
  4. Patience
  5. Our Individual Personality
  6. Practice Schedule and Concentration
  7. Eliminating Fears During a Performance
  8. Three Multiple Daily Jazz Vitamins
  9. Composition
  10. Music Business

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Concert Schedule

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Thousands of Ways

OA2 Records



Origin Records


Day Of Rest

Origin Records



Origin Records



Origin Records


My Faith, My Life

Origin Records


Flying My Kite

From: Thousands of Ways
By David Friesen

Backward Glance

From: Day Of Rest
By David Friesen


From: Passage
By David Friesen

Still Waters

From: Testimony
By David Friesen

Ancient Kings

From: My Faith, My Life
By David Friesen


From: Triple Exposure
By David Friesen


From: Where The Light Falls
By David Friesen



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