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Dave Frishberg: Do You Miss New York?

As an inveterate music traveler, I’m tempted to say I love John Pizzarelli’s Jersey best, but I must admit that my favorite destination remains Frishbergia (just east of the land of Oo-Bla-Dee). Nothing bad ever happens in the magical place where Dave Frishberg reins as mayor and chief tourism officer. The locals are congenial (particularly a hard-working lawyer named Bernie), the food’s good (try the Kentucky ham), there are always plenty of laughs, and you leave feeling a little bit smarter than when you arrived. Frishberg’s latest guided tour, Do You Miss New York? (Arbors), recorded live in December 2002 as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center series, finds him in top form. Of the 14 yarns spun here, only a handful -the slyly sentimental title track and boplicious “I Want to Be a Sideman”-will be familiar to regular Frishbergia visitors. Regulars might also detect that Frishberg’s wit (dazzling as ever) has lost some of its vinegar. True, bits like “Jaws” (about the inanity of movie theme songs) and the Christmas-skewering “The Difficult Season” aren’t quite as cleverly biting as, say, “I’m Hip” or “My Attorney Bernie.” Ah, but don’t get too comfortable on the Frishbergia midtown bus. There’s a jolt that comes near the end of the ride and it’s seismic. Commenting on the then-escalating threat of Iraqi hostilities, Frishberg presents an update of his “My Country Used to Be” that’s at once warmly nostalgic (suggesting a kinder, gentler America that is equal parts Currier and Ives and Garrison Keillor) and, bemoaning the nation’s willingness to be spoonfed “weapons of mass distraction,” chillingly cautionary. It won’t win him any friends in the White House but, judging from the audience roar, certainly made a few thousand Frishbergians stand and cheer.

Originally Published