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David Friesen Trio: Midnight Mood: Live in Stockholm

The jazz scene of the Pacific Northwest is somewhat insular, but it contains many strong players and is especially rich in piano trios. Bassist David Friesen’s ensemble with pianist Randy Porter and drummer Alan Jones would be one of the most creative and cohesive piano trios in any city where they chose to live. They happen to have chosen Portland, Ore.

The Pacific Northwest jazz scene may be insular, but these guys still get around. Midnight Mood was recorded at Jazz Club Fasching in Stockholm, Sweden, on a 2002 European tour. It is perfectly defined by its title. The prevailing mood is that of midnight in a jazz club when everyone present has bonded, the players are free to follow the moment, and the audience has relaxed into trust.

The program is mostly standards-standards one is happy to hear again, like Joe Zawinul’s title track and Michel Legrand’s “A Time for Love” and J.J. Johnson’s “Lament.” Porter is a fluent, intuitive pianist, and Jones is a drummer who knows when to arc and when to recede. What the trio does with “Come Rain or Come Shine” is bold, commingling it with “Bye Bye Blackbird” and casting it far beyond its borders. “How Deep Is the Ocean?” flows quickly but quietly, Porter barely touching the keys of the theme. “Lament” is very slow and fervent.

But what gives this ensemble its identity is Friesen. Whether in the background, coloring and motivating or in the foreground with his deeply searching, poetic solos, Friesen gives this recording its emotional resonance and atmosphere of rapt creative concentration.

Originally Published