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Hank Jones/Don Friedman

Don Friedman

Alone Together

Plays Don Friedman

(Edition Longplay)

(Edition Longplay)

by Ken Dryden

The demise of the LP was forecast soon after the dawn of the CD. Instead, it has clung to life as growing numbers of discerning listeners find more warmth in record grooves. Edition Longplay is a new label established to pair audiophile recordings on heavyduty 180-gram pressings and fine art commissioned for each album, with releases limited to just 500 copies. A veteran pianist whose career dates back to the '50s, Don Friedman's Plays Don Friedman is a rare opportunity for him to focus on his originals, with the performances coming from his solo piano set at the 2011 JazzBaltica Festival. "34 West 54th Street" has a bustling postbop flavor, contrasting with the deliberate, semi-classical feeling of "Friday Morning". Friedman sets up the listener for a ballad as he begins "Waltz For Marilyn", but the piece quickly turns into a lively vehicle with inevitable comparisons to Bill Evans due to its logical, intricate voicings. Another staple in Friedman's repertoire is "Almost Everything", a thinly disguised, yet brilliant reworking of the changes to the standard "All the Things You Are". His elegant tribute "Chopinesque" is a masterful blend of virtuoso playing, lyricism and swinging jazz. Friedman wraps his solo set by segueing directly into an introspective interpretation of Monk's "'Round Midnight", which takes it far from the usual path. Alone Together documents a fine set of solo and duo piano at the 2008 JazzBaltica Festival. The late Hank Jones is featured as a soloist for the first three numbers, including an elegant, reflective title track and striding, buoyant "The Very Thought of You". The gem of his solo segment is a gorgeous rendition of "Oh! What a Beautiful Morning", blending impressionism with Jones' unmistakable bop touch. Friedman joins him on a second piano for the remainder of the performance; the two musicians are of like mind, anticipating where his partner is headed and providing the perfect accompaniment. The duo starts with "Have You Met Miss Jones?", which proves to be a terrific musical conversation. "Body and Soul" is one of the most beloved jazz standards and the duo's moving performance doesn't need a vocalist to convey its message. "My Funny Valentine" is a frequently played standard, yet Jones and Friedman find something new to say with a softly spoken yet lush treatment that retains the essence of this timeless ballad. Bop fans will be delighted with their hard-charging take of "Confirmation". Bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson join the pianists as they wrap the set with "Moose the Mooche", a Charlie Parker favorite that showcases each of the players in turn.

For more information, visit editionlongplay.com.

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