In the beginning, the acoustic bass was a key instrument in the rhythm section: one that set, and helped maintain, a steady "beat" in the orchestra or combo in which it was used. It rarely was used to play a melodic line, unless a bow was involved. But that changed as time passed; the instrument evolved, and the artists' skills improved. Today, you're just as likely to hear complex melodic lines and solos featuring that "horn," as on brass or reed instruments. Icons such as Charles Mingus, Ray Brown, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and David Friesen - the artist featured here - have led the way.
Did you ever imagine attending a concert where a solo artist performed on the acoustic bass? Friesen has done that. This double-CD release, however, features his Circle 3 Trio; he's supported by pianist Greg Goebel and drummer Charlie Doggett. To make this splendid combo even better, guitarist Larry Koonse appears on nine of the 19. Friesen composed and arranged all of the music, which is another treat.
He was born in 1942 in Tacoma, Washington, to a musical family; his father sang, and his mother played C-melody saxophone. David grew up in the Spokane and Seattle areas, and began his musical career as a guitarist. However, while in the army he became enamored with the upright bass, and taught himself to play it. He was immediately hooked, practicing up to 10 hours a day.
Although he was exposed to - and often sat in with - many jazz icons who passed through the Seattle area, Friesen didn't move until 1973, when he opened his own coffee house in Portland, Oregon. Guitarist John Stowell joined Friesen in 1977, and they toured the West Coast together for years.
Goebel is another West Coast artist. His home territory covers Oregon, and that's where most of his performances are heard. Doggett is another Oregonian who also can be found at the state's various jazz clubs, particularly around Portland and at the two major colleges: the University of Oregon and Oregon State.
Readers of this blog know that Koonse is one of my favorite guitarists. His instrument of choice on this release is an electric model, and - as always - his contribution is impeccable.
The key words for this release are tasty and beautiful. These two hours of intelligent jazz will keep you riveted to the speakers.