Saturday, March 21, 2009

CD of the Day - "Jurgen Friedrich: Pollock"

CD of the Day
Jürgen Friedrich: "Pollock" (Pirouet) 2009

Jürgen Friedrich, John Hébert, and Tony Moreno are exponents of the highest art of the piano trio. They are a masterful trio who play music swirling with intensely vivid, luminous colours. Refinement and immediacy: seldom does one find this combination in such consummate harmony and at the same time with such a subtle complexity.

When Jurgen Friedrich was in New York in 1998 to receive IAJE's Gil Evans Fellowship Award, he signed a contract with Creed Taylor's CTI label to release his splendid debut solo album, "Summerflood," recorded with his quartet and special guest trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. But he also met John Hebert and Tony Moreno at a session and between the three of them they hit it off so well musically that they decided immediately to record a CD together. Since then Juergen Friedrich, who lives in Cologne and has since become a professor of piano in Hamburg, and the two Americans who are much in demand in the New York scene among many different musical partners (from Uri Caine to Ravi Coltrane), meet each other at least once a year to go on tour and make recordings.

This most recent one, "Pollock," released yesterday in Germany, was cut on December 17 & 18, 2007, at Pirouet Studio in Munich, and mixed one year later by engineer/tenor saxophone player Jason Seizer. Friedrich, with whom I had the honor to work on two Ithamara Koorax albums - "Love Dance" and "Autumn in New York" - continues to refine his art both as a composer and a pianist, in a chamber-jazz mood. For me, "Pollock" sounds even better and more organic than the trio previous album for Pirouet, "Seismo." All tracks are originals by JF and his partners, except Thelonious Monk's jazz hymn "'Round Midnight" (done in a way you've never heard before, of course).

The title and cover design (by photographer Konstantin Kern) pay tribute to American painter Jackson Pollock, famous for his abstract "action paintings" created mainly using a drip technique - the painter let the paint drip from his brush onto the canvas which laid on the floor, or he swung and shook the brush over it, thus creating a painting filled with movement. Such style has a striking relationship to jazz, wherein process and spontainety is essential. Btw, the cover of Ornette Coleman's 1961 avant-garde LP manifesto, the seminal "Free Jazz" (Atlantic), grasps back at Jackson Pollock's aesthetic, by using Pollock's painting "White Light" on its cover art.

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