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Guitarist Fred Fried is a protege of master plectrist George Van Eps, with whom he studied with him in California; Van Eps was the first to popularize the seven-string guitar. Having gained knowledge about the instrument, Fried also realized that the added string gave more of a complexity to the guitar, and he was able to play and write more pianistically. While his early influences were Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell, his work has been much more influenced by the late Bill Evans and other modal pianists.
Fried, originally from Brooklyn, New York and a graduate of the High School of Performing Arts, has now relocated to Cape Cod, where he appears in local jazz settings. His most recent releases were 2003's When Winter Comes and Infantry of Leaves (also on the Ballet Tree label).
I couldn't think of a better title for this album than The Wisdom of Notes. Although Fried has included only three originals here, they are virtually indistinguishable from the eight standards. This is the first recording on which Fried plays a nylon seven-string guitar. His playing throughout the album is lyrical, like a latter-day Charlie Byrd. Accompanying Fried are bassist Michael Moore, who gets several solo opportunties (eg. on "The Wisdom of Notes," "In Your Own Sweet Way," "Peau Douce") and drummer Tony Tedesco, who provides a tasty brushwork solo on "In Your Own Sweet Way." The influence of Bill Evans on these tracks remains strong; Fried also includes tunes that Evans favored in his repetoire ("You Must Believe in Spring," "With A Song In My Heart").
In an age of cutting-edge guitarists, it is a great pleasure to hear an album that is not only an homage to the past, but also a continuance of the modern jazz guitar tradition.
Track Listing: With A Song In My Heart; The Wisdom Of Notes; You Must Believe in Spring; Peau Douce; The Simplest Things; Seesaw; Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year; Moon Song; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most.
Personnel: Fred Fried: guitar; Michael Moore: bass; Tony Tedesco: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.