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   David Friedman: Weaving through motion: Release Information

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Release Date: 12.09.2014
EAN/UPC: 705304459621
TT Catalogue No: 4596

David Friedman - Weaving Through Motion

“Solo records are a wonderful opportunity to create own textures”, David Friedman rejoices about his new album “Weaving Through Motion”. It is in fact only his second solo-CD and at the same time a kind of anniversary. 20 years ago Friedman’s first solo album named “Air Sculpture” appeared, also on Traumton. Of course the American hasn’t been deedless in Berlin before and since then; he played concerts and recorded albums with notables such as Chet Baker, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Dino Saluzzi, Jean-Louis Matinier, Bobby McFerrin and many others - just never alone. “Usually the label and the studio don’t give you much time to unhurriedly develop something”, Friedman explains. This was completely different on his current production. With the producer Wolfgang Loos he tried out many ideas, improvised, developed melodies and harmonies. By carefully overlaying individual motifs as overdubs “a vertical sound architecture” evolved in the end.

In other words: the pieces on “Weaving Through Motion” emanate an individual beauty. It shimmers gently, cryptically, decidedly stays away from heavy make-up or pretentious accessories. Thereby it immediately appears attractive, but not boastful. With each further regard - in this case of course with each further listening - the pieces allure a little more, reveal additional nuances. Some seem to eradiate a contemplative, almost Zen-like calmness, though without the strictness of a tee-ceremony or a calligraphy. Friedman’s music flows without haste, but with a distinct aim. “It was important to me, that every piece creates its own atmosphere”, he describes his basic idea. One could add: an atmosphere that competently combines lightness with depth.

Alone the encounter of the two instruments brings forth oscillating dialogs. The metal bars of the vibraphone develop a floating, sometimes airy sound; the rather dry patterns of the wooden marimba associate earthy timbres. Not as a harsh contrast, but rather a mutually enriching communication. This time he did without extra percussion, which Friedman had additionally played in 1994. Nevertheless, many pieces exhibit a sublime rhythmic energy, partly also groove, like on “No (Changes)”, a personal approach to the rock-band Yes. “Compared to my first solo album, I thought more freely this time and less in odd meters”, Friedman comments, “I was after the challenge of creating melodies out of nothingness that stay in your ear.”

Four non-originals, arranged in typical Friedman-style, are to be found on the CD. He had wanted to record Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight for a long time already, “only its main theme” however. Friedman also shows a forceful volition to reshaping in his interpretation of Michel Legrand’s “Windmills of Your Mind”. “I always thought his basic idea was kitschy and ingenious at the same time”, Friedman says, “now I have changed the harmonic structure and a couple of harmonies, left out a part and underlayed it with a groove in 7/4 instead of 4/4 time.” David Friedman used to play the piece Atom by Ferenc Snetberger together with the guitarist; the Hungarian temper is in his nature, because he has family roots in this region. David Friedman was born in 1944 in New York City and grew up in the jazz-metropolis. “Jazz was very important back then and present everywhere”, he remembers, “all of its pioneers who had defined the style were still alive. In Manhattan you could see really fantastic swing players playing in clubs even during the daytime. And if you dared going to Harlem… I played there with Hubert Laws as one of two white guys among many Afro-Americans.” In 1977 he performed at the festival in Moers for the first time, right after the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. This was a provocation for the local free jazz audience. Just like today Friedman was interested in the connection of melody, structure and improvisation at that time. “What has always fascinated me, is improvisation that is not atonal, but rather sounds tonal and harmonic”, he says drawing the connection to the melodic playing of Keith Jarret or Dave Liebman.

“If a piece doesn’t motivate dreaming, it seems shallow to me”, Friedman says, “it has to spur my imagination.” After all, that is the power of music: “To put people into a different mood, transferring them into a different world for a short time.” With a wink of the eye Friedman calls it “aural tourism” and declares: “the notes play a secondary role, as long as the atmospheric tension remains.”

David Friedman’s: “Weaving through motion”
Understated sophistication that aims for the heart.

Whoever knows me knows how fond I am of vibraphonist David Friedman’s music (though it may not be obvious from my own playing). But notwithstanding this decades-old bias, you might share my opinion that in his new solo recording “Weaving  . . .” Mr Friedman is again convincing with the full weight of his irresistible sound. “His touch” would be the heading for a number of parameters that his style is composed of. The actual touch – as in attack – is the first one that comes to my mind. And mind-boggling it is still, 35+ years after I first held a Friedman album in my jittery palms  (“Futures Passed”) and it first caught my ear. The German “Anschlagskultur” would be a more precise word for the ability to extract an attractive sound from a piece of metal (as well as wood, however attractive in itself already).
>>Another one of his tools is the almost imperceptible use of dynamics – imperceptible because it simply becomes an inextricable part of the overall musical narrative. At this point a nod to the sound engineer Wolfgang Loos is in order. Friedman’s already exceptional use of dynamics and his ability of telling a story through music is being enhanced by the almost 3-D-like recording and the unbelievably sensitive sound-mix which turns swelling marimba tremolos and glistening vibraphone arpeggios into a physical experience, a sort of “bathing in sound”.
But if “musical narrative” sounds like a matter of easy choice for an effective parameter, I think I – or you – might be mistaken. It’s an art rooted in an early-on decision to “really” improvise, no matter the musical environment, according to the context at hand rather than spitting out pre-learned phrases at machine-gun tempo. I believe that the commitment to this kind of “truthful” improvisation manifests itself in timeless quality.
>>Friedman is not young in years, but his music is as timeless as ever as a result of having the listener bear witness to the act of real creation rather than senstionalism! His melodic and harmonic choices reveal an artist who, in spite of his very determined appearance, still is searching.  All this is framed and tied together by an uncanny sense of timing, both in the way Friedman subdivides and rhythmically interprets a groove as well as the overall shape and drama of a piece of music. This is true for both his own compositions and improvisations as well as for his highly individualistic interpretations of standards like “’Round Midnight”, and especially “the windmills of your mind”. The way marimba and vibes are being paired with each other here reminds one of a time when Friedman and his congenial partner, David Samuels, quietly introduced and then established the unheard-of duo format of marimba and vibes to bigger audiences under the name “Double Image”, starting with the stunningly beautiful and expressive LP “Winter Love, April Joy” and following with a number of no less beautiful duo recordings over the decades, albums with music and musical collaboration far beyond specialty content or hyper-technical self-promotion. Back to “Weaving . . .”: technique – yes, plenty, but all in the service of music, and thereby rendering its perception almost superfluous once again.
Friedman manages the seemingly contradictory feat of entertaining and feeding food to the ears, food whose seemingly easy-to-digest content belies its sophistication: I can write (I won’t mention dishes) while enjoying its sound, I can listen intently and analyze form and content. Or I may just give myself to the aural and emotional sensations triggered by a very knowledgeable and truly inspired artist.
Thank you Mr. Friedman.

Stefan Bauer, Dezember 2014

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