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Listening to Don Friedman

Listening to Don Friedman


Don Friedman Quartet feat. Peter Bernstein | © Jimmy Katz

These liner notes come care of our friend Rainer Haarman at the German label Edition Longplay and released a 2016 live record from the late great Don Friedman.

Edition Longplay LP 16 Remembering Attila Zoller
Live at The Kitano / New York / April 9 / 2016


"Somewhere Attila Zoller is smiling, pleased to see to his one time foil, pianist Don Friedman, playing to a full audience at the Jazz Standard. Those giddy days of the Zoller-Friedman quartet days are long past but Don Friedman has lost little of the touch that made him the darling of the vague area between hard bop and avant garde bubbling in the ’60s." – By Andrey Henkin

Don Friedman’s music is part of my life since 1966. I remember my first self organized jazz concert, which I realized in Göttingen (my student city at that time). It was a trio setting of Joe Viera and the bass player was an 18 years old musician from Munic. We found out soon, that we both loved the music of piano player Paul Bley. When he was back home in Munic, I received a package of him with a Riverside LP and he wrote: „Hear this wonderful piano player.“ It was Don Friedman and his trio with Chuck Israels on bass and Pete La Roca on drums and the title of this LP was „Circle Waltz“. The young Bass player was Manfred Eicher. This record changed my jazz live.

From now on I followed up every note, every record of Don Friedman’s music. And again it was an LP of his, which has put an important stamp on my jazz hearing.  It was March 1965 and it was in Berlin, where Siegfried E. Loch produced a record of Attila Zoller with Don Friedman, Barre Phillips and Daniel Humair with the title „The Horizon Beyond“  (the title tune of Attila Zoller). Don played for long years together with Attila Zoller and they published other records together –  for main labels like Riverside or Prestige; but this one was a special one, free, modern, nothing I had heard before – a real revolution. It was the time of Ornette Coleman’s influence on new jazz – called „New Thing“ , „Avantgarde“ or „Free Jazz“. And also this recording was as new, as free and as sensational as recordings by Ornette, Coltrane or others.  The musician left all chord systems and harmonies behind. Don  Nelsen wrote in his liner notes: “They developed a free form method of communication in which they choose their notes and rhythms without regard to conventional musical structures.“ And Don Friedman himself mentioned later: „This is the most satisfying record I ever made.“

From that time on for me it was Don Friedman like Ornette Coleman (by the way: Don played in Ornette’s early group – sadly without any recording), Gil Evans, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Charlie Haden, Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro, Paul Bley, Manfred Schoof (to mention only a few), who have been my lifelong favorites.

But I never met Don Friedman in person – until 2004. The year before my good friend Martin Wind played together with Pat Metheny and Jochen Rückert at JazzBaltica – a „dream came true“ , as Martin said. And he mentioned at the rehearsal of this special project: „I have a wonderful tennis partner in New York – but he also plays wonderful piano.“ My reaction in a hurry at that moment: „Ask him to send me some music.“ ….. And soon later I received a letter from Don Friedman! I still can’t find the right words for this special moment. But this changed my jazz life again and brought up years of great moments in music, in projects we realized together, in CDs we published and finally in two outstanding LPs of Don on my new Vinyl label (The second one together with Hank Jones). Don was also from the very first moment we met a wonderful friend, a person like his wife Marilyn, with whom I could spend so many special moments – privately like in music. Don is without any doubt one of the most important artists I ever have had the chance to meet and to work with.

And this  LP „Homage To Attila Zoller“ with  Peter Bernstein is a new landmark of Don’s impressive and unique artistry. The contribution of guitar player Peter Bernstein is not the first cooperation of both musicians – no wonder; Peter is a student of Attila Zoller  and Jim Hall (who by the way performed with Don at his 70th birthday concerts at the JazzBaltica festival – and who himself was a teacher of Attila Zoller), and the list of his recordings and cooperations is long and names artists like Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Cobb, Joshua Redman, Diana Krall, Lee Konitz and Sonny Rollins.

This recording in honour of Attila Zoller with guitar artist Peter Bernstein, with bass legend Harvie S and the very talented Austrian drummer Klemens Markt is a new example of the ever young artistry of a real jazz legend. And it revives some of so many unforgettable compositions of Attila Zoller – an artist, who’s work  was and is a main part of jazz history.

– Rainer Haarmann

Edition Longplay

Edition Longplay
Parkstrasse 6
24813 Schülp

Im Frühjahr 2017 erscheint eine besondere nächste Edition Longplay LP:

featuring DONNY McCASLIN, tenor sax / Special guest: DAVE DOUGLAS, trumpet
Recorded at Studio Sytem Two / Brooklyn, New York / April 11 / 2016

Don Friedman Quartet feat. Peter Bernstein | © Jimmy Katz
Don Friedman Quartet feat. Peter Bernstein | © Jimmy Katz
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