9

David Friesen With Orchestra And Quartet: Testimony

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
David Friesen With Orchestra And Quartet: Testimony
Most artists, in most fields, move into their eighth decade on an artistic decline, their best days behind them. But not so for the Portland, Oregon-based musician David Friesen. The bassist/pianist/composer hooked up with Seattle's Origin Records in 2014 with the release of Where the Light Falls. Five more sets arrived in short order, top tier duo, trio or solo outings. Now, with Testimony, Friesen embraces the orchestral, resulting in the gorgeous magnum opus of a long and successful career.

The recording with the National Academic Symphonic Band of Ukraine in Kiev, conducted by Oleksii Vikulav, came about, in part, from Friesen's desire to explore his mother's Ukrainian heritage, a search which took him on a tour of family landmarks in Smila, Ukraine, then to a meeting with Oleksandr Pirozhenko, the Symphonic Band's director. The efforts for the resultant concerts and the recording of the orchestral tunes here, in the National Philharmonic Hall of Ukraine, Kiev, feature diaphanous arrangements, a light and airy sonic touch, a sublime and heavenly translucence. The music orbits—with a subtle, measured and seemingly inevitable galactic grandeur—the sound of Freisen's Hemage bass, an instrument custom made for Friesen by Hermann Erlacher. It is a smaller, more portable version of its acoustic cousin. The Hemage bass has a distinctive sound, sharper and slightly less resonant than the traditional acoustic bass. More space surrounds the individual notes, making the collaboration with the spacious approach of the National Academic Symphonic Band a perfect fit.

The disc opens with the brief "Prelude," a solemn and buoyant two minutes introducing a feeling of an unspecified spirituality—that pervades the entire effort, start-to-finish—as it transitions into "Still Waters."

Eleven of the seventeen Friesen originals presented here are rendered by Pirozhenko's Symphonic Band. Six are played by Friesen's quartet, with vibraphonist Eugene Dobrovolskyi, drummer/percussionist Alex Fantaev and tenor saxophonist Mykola Ryshkov. The transitions from large ensemble to small, and the sequencing throughout, are handled perfectly. The transcendent mood is maintained. "Meaningful," by the quartet, shifts the sounds from the exquisitely classical feeling of the larger band to a smooth flowing, sultry jazz atmosphere.

"My Faith, My Life," by the big band, gives off a gently joyous and celebratory feeling. The quartet's "Pumpkin" steps lightly, with a joy of life mixed with a bit of whimsy. And the closer, "Lament For the Lost/Procession," strikes a note of beautiful sadness at first, before it shifts into an insistent forward momentum on a vibraphone drive train which takes it into a place of organic majesty—a grand and beautiful effort presented, in the 2020 time frame of the vexing COVID-19 pandemic, that lends a new hope and a sense of optimism to our troubled world.

Track Listing

Prelude; Still Waters; Meaningful; Distant Shores; Tribute; Sequence; Another Time, Another Place; Time Never Ends; Deep South Blues; My Faith, My Life; Make Believe; New Ballad; Sailing; Going Forth; Pumpkin; New Hope; Lament For The Lost/ Procession.

Personnel

David Friesen: bass.

Additional Instrumentation

David Friesen: Hemage bass, piano, percussion; Eugene Dobrovolskyi: vibraphone (3, 4, 8, 9, 12, 15), Alex Fantaev: drums, percussion (3, 4, 8, 9, 12, 15); Mykola Ryshkov: tenor saxophone (3, 4, 8, 9, 12, 15); David Friesen with the National Academic Symphonic Band of Ukraine (1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17).

Album information

Title: Testimony | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Origin Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Transmigration
Makram Aboul Hosn
Wrongs
Dan Pitt Quintet
Polaris
Greg Skaff
Sun Beans Of Shimmering Light
Wadada Leo Smith / Douglas Ewart / Mike Reed

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.