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Don Friedman Trio: My Favorite Things

Admit it: Sometimes listening to reinventions of the jazz piano trio can become more aggravating than illuminating. For those of you weary of rock beats and timbral experiments, the Don Friedman Trio’s My Favorite Things (Village) gives you fine traditional trio playing: lively without rushing, lyrical without collapsing into sentimentality, adept without showing off. Pianist Friedman moves through changes incredibly quickly in his solos, yet somehow manages to keep everything moving smoothly; this ability plays an important role in his successful attempts to drag both “My Favorite Things” and “Giant Steps” a little ways out of the shadow of John Coltrane. Bassist George Mraz keeps up with Friedman (no small feat) and pushes in new directions of his own in his solos, while drummer Lewis Nash takes frequent breaks and makes the most of them; he and Mraz contribute much of the vigor to Friedman’s rollicking “Half and Half.” Standards occupy most of the trio’s attention, though, and those same virtues inform fluent, satisfying takes on such chestnuts as “Ask Me Now,” “It Could Happen to You” and “I’m All Smiles.” Lots of people have plowed this stylistic ground, but the Don Friedman Trio shows that tasty things can still grow from it.

Originally Published