This double CD release has Friesen on Hermage bass sharing with two artists; first, Joe Manis saxophone, recorded live in Uzhhorod, Ukraine; and the second, Larry Koonse, guitarist, recorded by Peter Schwartz in Phoenix, Arizona. Compositions on both discs are all by David Friesen. CD with Manis has "Wrinkle" with Friesen walking the bass and the sax of Manis coming over the top with just a quick statement. Then they start toying, having fun with different tones, squeaks and squawks. Friesen starts a single note pattern on "Basic Strategy" followed by a lovely Manis horn. They both develop and diverge and build off the theme. Manis opens "Brilliant Heart" solo in a quiet longing. Friesen joins on a slightly walking piano. Slow beauty. "Martin's Balcony" has rumbling throb on the Friesen bass as the soprano starts off in the flute range in a dancing lyricism. Friesen gives us a shot at blues bop in varying straight-ahead time. Manis without punching moves a lyric lightness over the top. "New Hope" has the piano of Friesen lyrical, light, classical in feel. A third of the way in, the sax of Manis develops the theme with an array of notes and trills. They solidly build the core talk and expanse of the tune. "Roof Tops" has a 60s like modern bass rhythmic pulse, then Friesen works sounds against that, as Manis's slowly elongated notes develop. Friesen has one line on the bass that goes slow also, then a tricky run. The complex and highly rhythmic bass solo is punching and draws you in. Superb. Manis chimes in with rapid, very soft, clean darts of melodic sounds. On "Seam Line," Friesen is just touching, kind of slowly probing toward the theme, like he is hesitating, then the line gets established and he diverts. This bass is never boring, Friesen gets more sound, more interesting creative and improv lines than an entire band might develop. From soft to a single line hard attack, Friesen draws and holds you. Almost halfway in, he is in a walking mood, both high and low, matching Manis sort of lonely, lovely line. Manis talks in solo soft cascading lines by himself before Friesen returns. "Going Forth" has Friesen on the piano, warm, light, slightly dancing, and the tenor is warm and round, never blasting, more like a vocalist. Friesen is moving a Joni Mitchell like lyrical line on the piano. "Lament for The Loss/Procession" has seagull sounds, a very light bass pulse, then gets fuller on the deep end. Very moving, clear, clean with a taste of march, a kind of homage to some almost Irish lament. Bowing taps deep inside yourself. They take you into a peaceful full place in your soul. Excellent duo work.
Second Disc with guitarist Larry Koonse
Warm chords of Koonse and little melody lines parallel Friesen's easy floating bass. Flowing yet complex warmth. Listen to the cascading and ascending interplay done almost in a lazy manner. "New Hope" has the bass warm and working the pattern as the guitar accents and then lightly swings into the melody line. These quiet sounds release to Friesen bringing up a beautiful solo, swinging, airy and yet with his punch expression. "Romantic" has a dance between instruments, Friesen, with a light laughing run and Koonse with a slight biting curl in the guitar notes. He starts to develop this with more complex sequences. You get ready to sing on the opening of the ballad "Quietly Unfolding," a slow gorgeous ballad line that has the very lyrical guitar, and there are touches of the bass that then takes over the lead. Full, warm, and compelling work. They then go into a dancing mid tempo "Alaskan Waters" which has some Latin bossa movement. Koonse is particularly good at these slightly biting clear single notes that have a blue edge. Here, he just works those hard, even just exploding out in sound about a third of the way through as Friesen slaps the bass before his lyrical solo. "Undisclosed" is another lush ballad with guitar leading in, gently surrounding and elegant. After a bit, the bass with little fanfare supports, withdraws, hints, and touches the grace of this tune. Friesen is so lyrical and swinging on his solo. On "At Last, At Rest" just a touch of Latin helps the relaxation with little licks of guitar, more cluster work by Koonse, and after the guitar statement, Friesen solos and brings the sound out with clear, but not aggressive lines. Elegant again. "Passage" moves to a mid tempo pace with bass and guitar winding through each other's rhythm and melody line. Lots of interlaced talk. Latin hints on the guitar chording again and Friesen right in the same groove. The CD ends with Koonse's guitar so light and gorgeous on "My Faith, My Life" from single note holds to the warm chords. Then the bass and guitar start a small deliberate walk. Friesen states the melody with Koonse holding the rhythmic support. Friesen is strong with beauty and Koonse is graceful just below the solo. Packaging is in jewel box with a double CD holder in the middle. Magnificent guitar and bass conversations arrive at your auditory passage. Friesen composed the entire list of songs on both CDs. You will not feel like you have visited the same song twice. Writing with superb instrumental interpretation carries the day in a touching duo format. Friesen's painting and artwork appear in four places on the packaging; the eight-page info folder has pictures of the two artists, a tribute and liner note piece by William Minor, contact info, and credits. The back CD panel has song titles and times for both CDs, plus contact data. The back binding has clear title, artist, and number for easy shelf retrieval. Discs have players, title, contact info, and the song list, but no times. The entire package comes with an additional sleeve to go over the entire jewel box with the same info and art as the cover and back panel. The recording is clear and clean and the music is phenomenally engaging.