Don Friedman

Straight Ahead

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One can be excused if a quick glance at the outside of this CD leads one to believe that this is a reissue from the early '60s. In 1961, pianist Don Friedman, bassist Chuck Israels, and drummer Joe Hunt came together to record the album A Day in the City. The same three players had a reunion 46 years later, and proved that all were still in their prime. The shadow of Bill Evans can often be heard in their music since Evans was an early influence on pianist Friedman, and both Israels (for five years) and Hunt spent periods as members of the Bill Evans Trio. But although all of the players had their styles more or less formed by 1961 and have not radically changed since then, they have continued to gradually evolve and grow in depth. Some of the freer moments heard on Straight Ahead (which includes six originals by Friedman plus a song apiece from Israels, Attila Zoller, and John Coltrane) probably would not have been played in the earlier days, and the chord voicings are a bit more modern. The interplay between these old friends, all of whom have had significant careers (both as players and as educators), is joyful, intuitive, and thoughtful. The final piece, "A Day in the City Revisited," has each of the musicians playing an unaccompanied solo before coming together at its end, finding fresh life on the opening movement of the suite that originally brought them together on record. Recommended.

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