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Juergen Friedrich: Pollock

Dan McClenaghan By

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Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), the Abstract Expressionist American painter best known for his "drip paintings" produced from 1947 to 1950, loved and was inspired by jazz. The innovative music of that time in the genre was Bird (Charlie Parker), Dizzy Gillespie and the burgeoning bebop sounds that Pollack would listen to while he created. Jazz has loved and drawn inspiration from Pollack, too—in part, perhaps, due to the improvisational aspect of the painter's best known art. The original album cover of Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (Atlantic Records, 1961) features the Pollock painting "White Light." Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom devoted an entire CD, Chasing Paint (Arabesque Recordings, 2003), to musical interpretations of Pollock paintings. And now German pianist Jurgen Friedrich tips a hat to the American painter with Pollack.

Friedrich teams with two Americans—bassist John Hebert and drummer Tony Moreno—on this reflective and interactive piano trio outing. The disc's opener, the Friedrich-penned "Drift," drips to life of a series of delicate piano notes of seemingly random placement before it swells into an energetic rhythm of three-way interplay. Thelonious Monk's classic "Round Midnight" is up next. The trio engages in a spare reading of the familiar tune, not unlike the Bobo Stenson Trio's take of Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" on Goodbye (ECM Records, 2005), with no notes wasted in its beautiful exploration of the melody.

Hebert wrote two of the set's 11 tunes, with another penned by the leader in collaboration with Moreno. Five are Friedrich's compositions, and two more are trio improvisations, including the title tune. Throughout there is a sense of subtle complexity, immediacy and discovery, with an often searching quality, to go with a sparseness and refined use of space. Friedrich's "Over" has a feeling of poignancy, while Hebert's "Billy No Mates" goes darkly inward in the beginning, before Freidrich applies some bright colors.

Leaning toward the pensive and cerebral, Pollack is a gorgeously spare and spontaneous work.

Track Listing: Drift; Round Midnight; Ripple; Wayward; I Am Missing Her; Samarkand; Enclosed; Billy No Mates; Pollock; Over; Flauschangriff.

Personnel: Jurgen Friedrich: piano; John Hebert: bass; Tony Moreno: drums.

Title: Pollock | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Pirouet Records


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