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David Friesen

Star Dance




Winterís Fall

Duet and Dialogue

Dolphin in the Sky

Star Dance

1 Rue Brey

Fields of Joy

A Little Childís Poem


Children of the Kingdom

Mountain Streams

David Friesen (bass): Paul McCandless (oboe and cor anglais): John Stowell (electric guitar): Steve Gadd (drums)
Recorded 1976


Inner Cityís reissue programme continues to go well with this disc of material recorded just over thirty years ago by David Friesen. The bass playerís piquant group, anchored by the still memorably active Steve Gadd, includes the oboe and cor anglais (English Horn) player Paul McCandless and electric guitarist John Stowell. This chamber ensemble provides music that consistently surprises.

There are ten tracks, all of which were composed by the leader with the exception of the last, which is a co-composition with McCandless. One of the albumís strengths was that the individual personalities and stylistic affiliations of the four players fused productively and creatively rather than cancelling each other out. Friesen himself had played with musicians as disparate as Joe Venuti and Ted Curson, himself an Inner City player. Similarly, McCandless journeyed between Annette Peacock, Elvin Jones and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Stowell and Friesen played together often during 1976 and were well meshed by the time they recorded.

Flexible pulse in Winterís Fall generates an affirmative and sonorous lyricism whilst the leaderís dextrous play of pizzicato virtuosity ensures that Duet and Dialogue lives up to its promise as a study in exchanges. Friesen moves easily and in a non-doctrinaire way between pizzicato and arco, something shown strongly in Star Dance, where he can strum rather like a guitar: Stowell meanwhile evokes almost folk-like rhythms. Whilst itís quite hard-driving, Fields of Joy has rhythmically flexible elements to ensure its Latin samba feel is wittily conveyed. The oboe is to the fore but itís noticeable how much Ďspaceí there is in the ensemble work, so that these four very different voices have their own room to expand and contract.

A Little Childís Poem is a charming duet between bass and guitar Ė a band within a band effect Ė with a warm arco line beautifully threaded by the guitar (donít overlook Stowellís ability to fuse his guitar with the others). Clouds is a layered nature depiction for the quartet whilst some overdubbing ensures density for the final track, another duet with bass and cor anglais.

41 minutes represents standard LP timing but in the reissue context that is 41 minutes of exemplary, moving and beautifully textured music.

Jonathan Woolf

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