I sometimes wonder what it must have been like, to be present at a concert given by one of the true masters. Well, I've never been lucky enough to catch bassist David Friesen in person, but - thanks to the magic of albums - I can listen to him any time I so desire. Anyone similarly lucky is blessed.
Friesen, now 74 years old, got his start with the ukulele at age 10; he graduated to the guitar six years later. At that point he was 19, during military service in Paris, sitting in with Johnny Griffin and Art Taylor; and then in Copenhagen, playing with Dick Berk and Ted Curson.
After returning to the States in 1964, he committed himself to the bass, playing opposite artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bill Evans. Friesen also toured with Charlie Parker and Lionel Hampton. In 1973 he made his home in Portland, Oregon, and opened a coffee house.
Flash-forward to the present day. Friesen has worked with most of the jazz giants, and has been featured as a leader or co-leader on more than 60 albums, and as a sideman on more that 100 others.
The Circle 3 Trio, Friesen's newest group, features pianist Greg Goebel and drummer Charlie Doggett. Friesen composed and arranged all the tracks on this disc.
The term "concert jazz" frequently is used to describe the kind of music often presented in concert halls; this release is a perfect example. All the charts are performed at balladic tempos, and the result is some of the most gorgeous work ever recorded. And, yes; it's absolutely true jazz.
Friesen's Hemage bass is one of only three made by Herman Elacher, from Hol, in Tyrol, Austria, not far from Innsbruck. It's an electric, upright, headless instrument with an eccentric body shape. Friesen uses the Hemage for concerts, and an acoustic bass for most pure jazz performances.
Get this album, and listen for yourself. The tone, technique and concepts of Friesen's music are unbelievably gorgeous.