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Album Review

Although both Don Friedman and Don Thompson have extensive discographies as leaders, jazz fans may be more familiar with their work as sidemen. Together as a duo, they provide an interesting contrast, as the pianist has a classical background, while the bassist is self-taught on several instruments (also piano and vibes). These duo performances were taped in 1992 over consecutive days at two different Canadian venues, mixing the program with time-tested standards and Friedman's originals. Surprisingly, this was their first time to play together, yet only a brief rehearsal helped to make them sound like longtime partners. Friedman's musical flights are magical, yet leave plenty of space for Thompson. Their dramatic treatment of "Alone Together" finds Thompson responding with inventive lines around Friedman's adventurous path, while their poignant improvisation of "My Funny Valentine" sounds far more melancholy than typical interpretations. Among Friedman's compositions, Thompson responds beautifully to "Memory of Scotty," the pianist's requiem for the talented bassist Scott LaFaro (a promising young player who died in an auto accident in 1961, just ten days after making landmark recordings at the Village Vanguard as a member of the Bill Evans Trio), demonstrating tremendous chops in a song he had just learned. The sound is very intimate, while the audience is extremely respectful, restraining its applause to the end of a solo or the completion of a song. Connoisseurs of piano-bass duos will definitely want to pick up this rewarding CD.


Born: 04 May 1935 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

An excellent if underrated pianist, Don Friedman started off playing on the West Coast in 1956 with Dexter Gordon, Shorty Rogers, Buddy Collette, Buddy DeFranco (1956-1957), Chet Baker, and even the then-unknown altoist Ornette Coleman. After moving to New York in 1958, Friedman played in many settings, including with his own trio, Pepper Adams, Booker Little (recording with him in 1961), the Jimmy Giuffre Three (1964), a quartet with Attila Zoller, Chuck Wayne's trio (1966-1967), and, by the end...
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Opus d'amour, Don Friedman
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