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Monday, October 1, 2007

Erik Friedlander - Block Ice & Propane (Skipstone Records, 2007) ***½

Erik Friedlander is one of the best cellists around in modern jazz or modern music "tout court". This is his second solo record in a few years time, and one which is remarkably accessible for his doing. The cellist is known for his complex compositions, often with a strong influence of classical avant-garde, but here he brings an almost sentimental journey into his own past, as brought up by his memories, full of childhood nostalgia. In line with this, the music is warm, straight-forward, simple (without being simplistic). The music is the kind of jazz that is brought by Bill Frisell, with lots of references to American country music and blues. Most of his playing is done by plucking the strings, or even playing full chords, giving a guitar-like approach and a very intimistic feel. He is however at his best, when he plays arco, as in "Airstream Envy" (see video below), because it releases the full emotional power of the instrument. On two tracks, "Cold Chicken" and "Pressure Cooking", he becomes a little more avant-garde, and those are more to my taste. Nice album, well-balanced and well-played.

(the album can be downloaded from his website)