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Take Five With Annie Friedland

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Annie Friedland:

I've played since I was born. I play piano (all keyboards) and sing. I didn't like opera, so I went on the road.

Jazz was a life-saver for me as I was fired from Top 40 Bands for improvising. That was when I was 20. I am 55 now.


Piano, organ, key bass.

Teachers and/or influences? Morgana King, Singers Unlimited, Chick Corea, Chaka Kahn, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Diana Krall

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I crawled up on the piano stool at one year old!

Your sound and approach to music:

I have perfect pitch, which is great except my reading stinks. I sing like me...I didn't listen to records and steal licks from them, I try to interpret music as I see and feel it. It is really hard for me to just follow someone's judgment. I make my own decisions.

Your teaching approach: I am a firm believer in not forcing a child to play music if they don't have an interest in it. If they would rather be playing video games, then they should. I do believe that kids need direction and should participate in activities, just the ones they like.

Your dream band:

Me on piano, Joey DeFrancesco on organ, Dave Weckl on drums. Also, I would like a soul chorus behind me.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I was on the road with The 4 Coins. Half the band was in Cleveland and the other half in Pittsburgh. We started a pillow fight in Pittsburgh and when we got to the turnstile in Cleveland, we continued right there! At the Hotel we started with shaving cream and almost got kicked out before we started. It was a lot of fun.

Favorite venue:

I was on the road so much I have several favorite venues. I guess the Las Vegas Hilton is one of them. They really showed us respect....not the "come through the kitchen" attitude.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

I am still working on a discography, but my favorite is Lazy Afternoon, with Kenny Blake on soprano sax. There are several tunes on The Piano Record...Just Me and a 9 Foot Grand; one is "Return to Forever." It was done by Minnie Ripperton before she passed on. I still cry.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Morgana King, Wild is Love.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Showing that females can be musicians, not just Diva's or chick singers or second-rate musicians. I like the way I voice chords. When I do a choir arrangement on keyboards, if I voice it like a choir would, it sounds incredible.

Did you know...

I am an EMT, a Private Investigator, a Personal Trainer and a Wig Stylist!

CDs you are listening to now:

Diana Krall, Live in Paris (Verve) "I'd Rather Be Here With You";
Tower of Power, Anthology (Warner Bros.) "Sqib Cakes";

Clarence Wheeler, Right On (Atlantic).

Desert Island picks:

Danny Gatton, Relentless;

Larry Young, Unity;

Chick Corea Elektric Band.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? It is still primarily a "cult." Jazz is not for the average bear, and when it gets too pop it is no longer jazz.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? There are many people, including musicians, that don't know the correlation between jazz and blues. I have heard comments that are absurd. The venues that are still in business need to be creative to bring customers in that don't necessarily know jazz. Also, musicians seem to form a clique and there is little mentoring for lesser-known musicians. There's a lot of undiscovered talent out there.

What is in the near future?

I need to finish one CD. I am involved in the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival and also an awards program for jazz artists around the world. I have been promoting myself and will possible be going overseas to play.

By Day:

Don't have a day gig but could use one.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

FBI Agent.


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