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.
He began playing the ukulele and the accordion at 10, and a guitar professionally at 16. Born in Tacoma, Washington May 6, 1942, he was raised in Seattle. 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.
After a long tenure touring with Elmer Gill, who played with Charlie Parker and the Lionel Hampton band; Friesen opened his own coffee house in 1973 in Portland where he and his family make their home. Word began to circulate and his gigs assumed a different perspective as he hooked up with John Handy and others. Jazz education also entered his sphere of interest, and he became a faculty member of the National Stage Band Camps for a couple of summers working with Marian McPartland, John La Porta, Phil Wilson, and the Jamey Aebersold combo clinics.
Joe Henderson was his next association, which was followed by a 1975 summer tour of Europe with the Billy Harper Quintet. This tour opened new doors and led to stints with Stan Getz, Sam Rivers, Kenny Drew, George Adams and Danny Richmond (records with the latter three), and concerts with Dexter Gordon and Mose Allison. Then in 1976-77, he joined Ted Curson, who showcased Friesen's solo bass work and gave him more visibility in the jazzscape.
While on tour in September 1977, the Ted Curson group, of which David Friesen was a primary member, gave to the jazz studies students at Western Washington University in Bellingham, a very moving and successful clinic. Several days later at the Monterey Jazz festival, Friesen captured the entire audience of more than 7,000 as he opened the festival with a bass solo – sitting on a drum stool, cello-style.