181

Fred Lonberg-Holm Trio: Other Valentines

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Lonberg-Holm Trio: Other Valentines The cello may not be the most common instrument in jazz, but over the years it has had a number of significant proponents, including the late Fred Katz and more recently Erik Friedlander, Vincent Courtois, and Hank Roberts. Add to that list Fred Lonberg-Holm, who, while based in New York for a number of years since emerging on the scene in '90, now resides in Chicago and has recently replaced trombonist Jeb Bishop in saxophonist Ken Vandermark's Vandermark 5. With a résumé that includes work with rock, jazz, and avant-garde bands, it's no surprise that his own discography has been so stylistically diverse.

But when Lonberg-Holm released A Valentine for Fred Katz (Atavistic, '02) it was something of a surprise, and for more than one reason. First, it was a relatively straight-ahead session where Lonberg-Holm demonstrated a lyrical side that, while evident in his other projects, had never been thrust so much to the forefront. Second, it was a trio session—and an odd one at that—with Lonberg-Holm fronting a traditional bass and drums rhythm section. Its followup, Other Valentines, is also a trio session, with bassist Jason Roebke back from A Valentine for Fred Katz and newcomer Frank Rosaly on drums. But this time, Lonberg-Holm demonstrates just how esoteric his musical interests are, interpreting material by Pink Floyd, Wilco (with whom he's recorded), Cat Power, Sagor & Swing, Sun Ra, and Gil Scott-Heron, along with two of his own originals: one by Roebke and, for continuity, a nod to Fred Katz as well.

While some might think, based on the programme, that the Lonberg-Holm Trio is the E.S.T. or the Bad Plus of the cello trio, this is far from the case. While the novelty of a cello trio could degenerate into the realm of shtick, it simply never happens. The trio's ability to expand upon these memorable and recognizable melodies makes for a compelling listen from start to finish. That the sonorities are restricted to the low end of the sonic spectrum is a fact soon forgotten in the trio's soft-edged and smooth-surfaced approach.

Poignant and sometimes melancholic, with a disposition towards introspection that remains delicately-spirited at the same time, Other Valentines has its own voice. And while a specific focus pervades the set, it has plenty of range as well. "Arnold Layne, by Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett, moves along with a gentle backbeat from Rosaly, while Cat Power's "Fool has an alt-country ambience. Sun Ra's "East of Uz swings lightly and is less idiosyncratic than one might expect, and Gil Scott-Heron's "Winter in America, another tune with a distinct backbeat, is as dark as the trio gets.

While the format of the Longberg-Holm trio might frighten off some potential listeners, at the end of the day that's their loss. Those prepared to put aside preconceptions may be surprised at how unassuming and deeply emotional a cello/bass/drums trio can be, and how completely captivating Other Valentines truly is.


Track Listing: East of Uz; Fool; Arnold Layne; Amost Mid-Day; Vals Pa Vinegar; Flo; Winter in America; Jesus Etc.; I Got Nothing; To My Buddy, Buddy

Personnel: Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Jason Roebke (bass), Frank Rosaly (drums)

Title: Other Valentines | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Golan/Al Joulan Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Golan/Al Joulan Vol. 2
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "True Love Collection" CD/LP/Track Review True Love Collection
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Playing the 60s" CD/LP/Track Review Playing the 60s
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "December Songs" CD/LP/Track Review December Songs
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Ma De Re Sha" CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "The Busker" CD/LP/Track Review The Busker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 30, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.