My Foolish Heartby Don Friedman
Don Friedman is a throwback to a time (the late '50s and early '60s) when it was not all that uncommon for a progressively minded jazz musician to play in both bop and free bags...or to even mix them up. On My Foolish Heart, Friedman's free-er impulses are not explicitly indulged. Still, there are times -- as on "Memory of Scotty," Friedman's tribute to the late bassist Scott LaFaro (who not coincidentally played with both Ornette Coleman and Friedman's primary inspiration, Bill Evans) -- where the pianist's elasticity of phrase and Catholic harmonic tastes remind one that jazz's many strands are more readily woven together than one might think. His work on "Almost Everything" (Friedman's melody based on the changes to "All the Things You Are") demonstrates vividly to what extent rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic freedom is possible within the bounds of a traditional setting. Friedman's sense of dynamics and drama within the course of a tune are superb. His touch is sensitive, but does not sacrifice rhythmic propulsion, and his improvised lines are inherently unpredictable. Indeed, spontaneity is arguably Friedman's strongest suit. The pianist's sidemen support him ably. Tenor and soprano saxophonist Jed Levy is a solid, melodically inventive improviser. Drummer Tony Ferguson and bassist Tim Ferguson form a tasty rhythm section; Ferguson is also an able soloist. The program is a nice mix of standards and originals. If there is a criticism, it might be the rather pastel air that pervades the album (which speaks more to the intent of the artist than the execution). Nevertheless, while Friedman has in the past recorded with more fire, this is a well-executed and rewarding set by a musician who embraces (and exemplifies) the best jazz has to offer.
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