Don Friedman

Opus D'Amour

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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.

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