John Fremgen

Pieces of String

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There isn't much information packaged with this CD, but there's enough to know that it was rather impulsively recorded in Austin, TX, round about midnight. It certainly sounds fresh and spontaneous, as enjoyable for the musicians as for the listener. Leader/bassist John Fremgen has recruited versatile first-call drummer Peter Erskine and the ebullient, graceful pianist Shelly Berg for a well-balanced session of standards and originals. From the opening romp on Monk's already-whimsical "Little Rootie Tootie" to the closer, Berg's jaunty "Red Rocks, Tall Cactus" (which is preceded by a silly joke, complete with rimshot), this is "playing music" in the best sense of the term. Fremgen contributes two excellent compositions: the tender waltz "For a Better Day," which is enhanced by Berg's waterfall figures and Erskine's subtle brushwork, and the airy bossa "Standing on Ceremony." Fremgen is consistently on his toes, strong and energetic, and the group swings hard and happy on "If I Were a Bell," "A Nightingale Sang...," and the Thad Jones favorite, "Three in One." Generous track times give everyone room to stretch out: "Soul Eyes," which seems to rise out of a thunderstorm to describe a newly peaceful, misty landscape, takes ten exquisite minutes to unfold. A delicious trio date, warmly recorded, this CD is a special treasure for its inclusion of the criminally undocumented Berg, whose unique combination of power and gentleness is too-rarely captured on disc.

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