The biblical contexts that shape David Friesen's music can be appreciated by secular or non-secular listeners in many ways. You can relax, meditate, have a nice meal, or even cruise down the highway to these contemporary jazz sounds that Friesen has conjured, inspired by religious Christian stories. Acoustic and electric guitarist John Stowell joins the bassist in duets expanded by overdubbing, occasionally adding in other exotic instruments. Some beautiful music based in natural melodies and substantial harmonies is created, perhaps approaching a cloud dweller's approach, definitely removed from mainstream jazz, with lots of improvisation. "Rooftops" is a perfect example of employing this softer tonal focus, even if the notes tumbling out from Friesen and Stowell are active and busy in pretty minimalism. A quick, 4/4 song of peace, "Tomorrow's Dream" displays the most harmonic convergence, "Brethren Ascending" is a cute, children's-type song, anticipatingly joyous, while a straight piano/bass duet "My Soul Shall Weep in Secret Places" illuminates a chiming, morning church bell sound. Of course the speed demon factor is imprinted in these two virtuoso musicians, as demonstrated in the super-fleet "Triolgy," with the expected interplay and trading of ideas amidst overdubbing of Stowell's mandolin and guitars, while the upbeat title track is an all-out jam, based on thoughts and texts from the Book of John. As musicians interested in world culture, Friesen's five-bass extravaganza "All That Has Breath & Life" is a raga-like discourse, and "Land of the Living" really expands the universal spiritual language of textural pastoral music, utilizing bamboo flute, mandolin, mbira, marimba, two pianos, percussion, and acoustic bass, all overdubbed, on a piece perfect for late-night musings or an early sunrise. The title Other Mansions refers to a place in the soul that relates to embracing a deity, whatever one may exist. Perhaps born-agains or cultists can deeply relate to these songs and their intent, but it's more for those who believe simplicity and light provide more than one entry point to unlimited paths leading to a journey bound for somewhere wonderful.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos