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My Foolish Heart

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Album Review

Don Friedman is a throwback to a time (the late '50s and early '60s) when it was not all that uncommon for a progressively minded jazz musician to play in both bop and free bags...or to even mix them up. On My Foolish Heart, Friedman's free-er impulses are not explicitly indulged. Still, there are times — as on "Memory of Scotty," Friedman's tribute to the late bassist Scott LaFaro (who not coincidentally played with both Ornette Coleman and Friedman's primary inspiration, Bill Evans) — where the pianist's elasticity of phrase and Catholic harmonic tastes remind one that jazz's many strands are more readily woven together than one might think. His work on "Almost Everything" (Friedman's melody based on the changes to "All the Things You Are") demonstrates vividly to what extent rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic freedom is possible within the bounds of a traditional setting. Friedman's sense of dynamics and drama within the course of a tune are superb. His touch is sensitive, but does not sacrifice rhythmic propulsion, and his improvised lines are inherently unpredictable. Indeed, spontaneity is arguably Friedman's strongest suit. The pianist's sidemen support him ably. Tenor and soprano saxophonist Jed Levy is a solid, melodically inventive improviser. Drummer Tony Ferguson and bassist Tim Ferguson form a tasty rhythm section; Ferguson is also an able soloist. The program is a nice mix of standards and originals. If there is a criticism, it might be the rather pastel air that pervades the album (which speaks more to the intent of the artist than the execution). Nevertheless, while Friedman has in the past recorded with more fire, this is a well-executed and rewarding set by a musician who embraces (and exemplifies) the best jazz has to offer.


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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My Foolish Heart, Don Friedman
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