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David Friesen

David Friesen

In name, the David Friesen Trio might seem like a unit that puts the veteran bassist in the spotlight, but its namesake says it doesn’t quite work that way. “The music leads,” Friesen says. “Any one of us can be the leader in a given moment just because we’re responding creatively to what we hear in the moment. Once you play that way, it’s hard to play in a situation where there’s manipulation and control.”

Midnight Mood (Intuition) captures the trio-Friesen, pianist Randy Porter and drummer Alan Jones-at a 2002 gig at Stockholm’s Jazz Club Fasching, on a night when their rapport was working overtime. Along with the title track, written by Joe Zawinul, and J.J. Johnson’s “Lament,” the group plays material like “How Deep Is the Ocean?” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” They open up these often-heard numbers to new possibilities by stretching time, locking into grooves and occasionally ending a song without restating its theme. “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” one of two songs on the album that were recorded at Porter’s studio a month after the live date, virtually allows the listener to hear the synergy work its magic as the group starts with what sounds like a second-line groove and evolves through solos by Friesen and Porter into a loose open vamp that drives the song home. Here, as well as on a reading of John Coltrane’s “Equinox,” Friesen proves himself to be a master of strong, rapid runs that never skimp on melodic content.

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